When The Perfect Comes

October 30, 2013
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After several discussions, a few phone debates, and being made aware of an evangelical conference at a major seminary, I felt it time to throw my hat in on this huge debate.

The topic? Spiritual gifts and if they continue today or not. On one side of Christian Orthodoxy stands continuationists. On the other side are cessationists. These groups are brothers and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Granted they differ on this matter, which is secondary but has primary implications, but they are of one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.

One major area of contention stems from the 1 Corinthians 13 text which includes the title of my blog. Your typical cessationist believes the ‘sign’ gifts went out with the 8 track player, except they point to the end of the 1st century after the apostles died off. Other cessationists point to the completion of the canon as the end of the road for the ‘sign’ gifts.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Somehow, some way the cessationists have gotten away scot-free by positing this completion of the canon theory as a credible and plausible interpretation of the above verses. But it’s important to know what’s driving this theory for my brothers across the tracks – it’s that they purport that only the apostles were given these gifts. Let’s not miss that. That’s their claim. Only the apostles had those gifts because those gifts composed together formulate the “signs and wonders” spiritual gifts package that marked the true apostles – “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.”

We have been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Run amuck. Well, not really but I couldn’t resist. In all honesty, the cessationists have made a Plymouth rock boulder size claim that doesn’t stand up against any normal bible study. For them to suppose that only the 12 apostles plus Paul were given these gifts flies in the face of the very apostle (Paul) who penned 1 Corinthians and Romans. In fact, Paul says that God the Holy Spirit is the One whom gives out these ‘sign’ gifts to believers. And then Paul instructs the Corinthian church how prophecy and tongues are to be used in an orderly fashion in corporate worship.

Now you may be asking yourself at this moment, ‘well that’s just for the canon group of guys, right, so the end of the 1st century group of cesssationist are in the clear, right?’ May it never be (again, I couldn’t resist). They too claim that only the apostles had these ‘sign’ gifts. Here’s why they so adamantly state such things: those ‘sign’ gifts (which are not 1-to-1 equivalents of signs and wonders) were used to establish the church they claim. So once the church was “built on the foundation of apostles and prophets” those ‘sign’ gifts went bye-bye because they were no longer needed. In essence, they’re stating that once churches were planted on 3 continents, those gifts had served their purposes and went out of use. And yet we see in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 these gifts they claim that only the apostles had being given to churchmen. Romans 12 states this: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.”

I’m so totally confused that I scratch my head and wonder if they hear what I hear them saying. So the Spirit dished out these 4 gifts (prophecy, tongues, healings, miracles) to the apostles and then stuffed em away in his gift bag (pun intended) without intention on sharing them ever again since there are no more apostles and the church’s already been established? Oh just the thought of hearing someone say this makes me chuckle. It’s funny because they go to a chapter in 1 Corinthians to argue for either position while totally overlooking the words in the previous chapter. I’ve known some to grant the fact the Spirit gave those 4 gifts to believers but he took them away by the end of the 1st century! Without any biblical evidence, they make these contradicting claims over and over again.

So what’s the main text in 1 Corinthians 13 arguing for? I’d say it’s arguing for the return of Jesus when glorification becomes a reality and we, as beneficiaries of our Lord’s return, will no longer know and prophesy in part but fully as we see face to face what perfection looks like in the God-Man. For no cessationist truly believes that they see fully and know fully now that the canon is complete and we’re way past the 1st century. Yet no one has stood up and said, hey brothers maybe we should re-think this whole canon/1st century theory.

Once we breakdown the root element driving their theories and compare it up with the biblical text, then we are able to see the holes and gaps in their theories and understand why the finished product doesn’t jive well with Scripture. But my cessationist brothers are arguing their point from the Bible as best as they know how. I’m just sorely unconvinced on every level of their argument.


Strange Fire, Indeed!

October 27, 2013
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It is my intention to offer up a case for continuationism for believers, especially those who watched and heard the Strange Fire conference that a group of cessationists put together. There is a lot that can be said about that conference, both good and bad. And I want to ensure that my love for my brothers isn’t a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. I want those pastors to know that I appreciate them. That I appreciate how they argued for their position from the Bible. That I appreciate them voicing a desire to be loving and gracious to a ‘minority’ of Charismatics that believe in orthodoxy. And lastly I appreciate them for saying exactly what they said as I am now encouraged to respond after chewing on their messages for sometime.

There were a few definitive statements made at the conference that I’d like to address before stating my case, with the help of Tim Challies blogs.

1 – “Calvin would say to reformed leaders today who are dabbling in charismatic teaching and practice that they are playing with Pandora’s box. They are opening a door Satan easily uses to lead people astray.”

I’m unsure what Calvin would say to other Calvinists who don’t hold to his view on this topic, but I do think if an honest discussion can be had between him and us, I doubt his language would be so sharp as to accuse us of what this Dr Lawson quote does. Being faithful to exegete the text is being done by Calvinists Continuationists, which is one good reason we don’t view baptism the same way Calvin did. And praise God for that.

2 – “MacArthur argues that the charismatic movement and the position of continuationism opens the door to more theological error than any other doctrinal aberration which has preceded it. The true church needs to respond. These errors must be corrected. Don’t call yourself a charismatic Calvinist. Calvin rejected that himself. If you insist on staying in that movement, then drop the label of Calvinism. If these theologically conservative continuationists take a turn to cessationism, they may make a massive difference for the next generation.”

Initially I was angry with Dr. MacArthur for this statement, because the faithful “why every self-respecting Calvinists should be a dispensationalist” preacher wouldn’t dare apply this same logic to himself seeing how Calvin would never affirm dispensationalism. But now, I see this statement as an intentional dagger to his brothers in the gospel to somehow persuade them to jettison their view for the sunny shores of cessationism in order to make a difference. Arrogant exhortation usually doesn’t prove effective. And to not include us with the “true church” is deplorable, if I’m reading what he’s saying correctly.

3 – “The end of the gift of apostleship. In two places in the New Testament Paul refers to the apostles as one of the gifts Christ gave his church (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4). Although not all spiritual gifts are offices, all offices are gifts to the church.”

This point was made by Pennington, and many other cessationists. The problem with this argument is that spiritual gifts were never limited to apostles. Paul says this in 1 Cor 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” They’re given to believers for the common good of the body of Christ. This age-old argument of “only apostles” could do this or were given this doesn’t square with scripture.

4 – “MacArthur said, Show me a person obsessed with the Holy Spirit and I’ll show you a person not filled by the Spirit. Show me a person obsessed with Jesus Christ and I’ll show you a Spirit-filled person.”

Dr. MacArthur was clear several times during Q&A for his love and appreciation for John Piper. I’m not sure if he extended that to CJ Mahaney, a man he’s had at several of his conferences, or others who were mentioned (Grudem, Storms, Francis Chan). So then he makes this statement that completely contradicts his intention towards Piper as if to say that Piper is “one” of them and he isn’t filled by the Spirit. Now, I could be wrong due to the plethora of broad stroke statements made throughout the conference. It’s as if being a charismatic/continuationist is equal to being obsessed with the Holy Spirit according to him. That’s going a bit far.

5 – “She (Joni Erickson Tada) was at the conference to share her testimony of living as a quadriplegic who has prayed for, but not received, a miraculous healing. As MacArthur said in his closing comments, if anyone has the faith to be healed, it must be her.”

I find this entertaining! It’s as if Joni was the cessationist’s subjective proof/response to charismatics/continuationists that they so quickly condemn the charismatics/continuationists for holding onto so closely. If anyone has the faith to be healed, it’s this faithful cessationist sister…but since she isn’t healed, can we conclude it’s because the gift no longer exists? Doesn’t that circular reasoning sound like the stuff we are liable to hear on TBN and from charismatics misunderstanding the gifts? Seeing how she was presented to the conference after the opening conference message, I do wonder the reasoning behind the order of speakers.

Okay now that that’s done, let me make my case for continuationism.

It’s crucial we start with the NT texts that talk about spiritual gifts. Paul opened up both Romans and 1 Corinthians with an important word for us to consider:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—  that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine (Rom 1:11-12)

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor 1:4-9)

These texts help us see that Paul prefaced the most theological NT book to a local church with a honorable mention of imparting a spiritual gift to them for the sole purpose of strengthening them with the end result of both the Christians in Rome and him being mutually benefited. For that seems to be the end result of spiritual gifts. Along with telling what’s considered the most chaotic church in Corinth that they don’t lack any grace (charisma) gift, which is huge because Paul is testifying to a body of believers that are clearly Spirit-filled evidencing their gifts in such a way that Paul acknowledges them as valid gifts.

1. Don’t be uninformed – Paul received a letter from a member in Corinth, and he uses chapters 12-14 to set the record straight. In 1 Cor 12:1, he calls them brothers. Paul is signifying that each Christian has at least one spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit equips each Christian with a spiritual gift to edify the Church. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” Paul says in 1 Cor 12:7.

2. Every gift is important – Paul in 1 Cor 12:14–26 speaks to the importance of every spiritual gift in the local church. To address the issues of anybody feeling too important or feeling too unimportant, Paul lays out an argument that no one gift is more important than the one in the local body. ” If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body” is one great example Paul lays out in verse 15. No matter the gift one person possesses as he tries to lord it over another person with another gift whom he determines is less important, it doesn’t make that person with his gift any less a part of the local body. Why? Because every gift is important.

3. Gifts, Services, Activities – There are about 22 gifts listed between Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4 and they don’t operate the same shape, form, or fashion as we may tend to think. Read carefully what Paul says about this and how he links it to the Trinity

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone (vv 4-6)

When it comes to spiritual gifts, our biggest takeaway from this cited passage is variety. Paul doesn’t state every way they operate and he’s not supposed to. What we are to keep in mind is the multifaceted way spiritual gifts function within the body. Are they manifested the same way every time we see them used? Not if this verse is true. This is all about diversity for the diverse body.

* There is one spiritual gift list that I’d like to call to our attention. Paul says this in 12:28, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” It is here that Paul lists apostles & prophets as gifts to the church right along with healing and tongues. This is a crucial lynchpin for those who advocate certain gifts no longer being in the Church once the first two gifts finished their ministry. Well, Paul doesn’t seem to think so. And we must keep in mind that this comes before Paul penned Ephesians 2:20, but it’s penned in Ephesus by the same apostle. Paul even goes so far in chapter 14 to set this straight – “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.”

4. Gifts have a purpose – Spiritual gifts are given for the common good of the Church. Paul says this in 1 Cor 12:7. They are to be grounded in love. Paul’s not talking about some random, unidentified love. He’s talking about love for the body. That’s chapter 13. Then Paul begins to lay out the sole purpose of spiritual gifts which is to edify the Church in chapter 14.

  • And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
  • The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
  • The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
  • So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church
  • What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

As these gifts are used properly in the body, and as believers strengthen their use of the gifts, the body is edified more and more. As our understanding of the gifts center of bringing Christ glory and seeing his bride built up in love, we are to use these grace gifts as the Spirit has disseminated them according to the grace given to us all.

5. Desire higher gifts – Paul makes this point at the end of chapter 12 and beginning of chapter 14. Follow the more excellent way of love and “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” What we see here is an active-continuing command to seek out spiritual gifts. Paul is calling believers to seek out spiritual gifts from God as long as your motive is love and edification of the body. This is the right thing to do.

So far I have listed 5 solid, biblical reasons why all the gifts continue throughout today in the Church. I have chosen not to deal with every possible textual question my brothers on the other side of this equation tend to throw at continuationists. I simply wanted to state a case for why it’s biblical and proven by the text.

But I do want to be thorough and address a few issues.

1. Pass Away Argument – In chapter 13, Paul says prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will pass away or cease. The million dollar question is when will this happen.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Paul makes his case for when these gifts will pass away. Now we have imperfect or partial prophecy (which we must not overlook when discussing the validity and nature of the gift of prophecy), but when the perfect comes, there weren’t be any need for imperfect prophecy. And now we partial knowledge that will one day become full knowledge. Some conclude that they will pass away when the New Testament is fully written and canonized. Others conclude this happens when Christ returns.

I tend to think the answer to this question is a no-brainer as all 3 gifts are considered, mainly the gift of knowledge. If you were to ask someone if they know fully since the NT canon is complete, they’d look at you as if you were a martian with a southern accent! Of course they don’t believe that and neither should you. Nor is the canon of the NT to be considered perfection of everything. Yes it is infallible, inerrant, and authoritative, but it was never meant to be the tool that helps us see “face to face.” So the only likely answer is when Jesus returns because that’s when our glorification comes and our salvation is complete. We wouldn’t need any gift once Christ comes back, would we? David Platt pointed this out in his Secret Church 2008: “This is talking about our glorification. It’s talking about when we will see Christ, when we will be fully known by Christ. Our salvation will be complete. It also couples with what Paul had said earlier in 1 Corinthians 1:7 when he talked about our spiritual gifts being given to us as we wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gift of prophecy is definitely temporary, but I don’t believe that in 1 Corinthians 13 there is conclusive teaching for us that prophecy will cease when Scripture is complete.”  

2. Office/Gift distinction – It’s important to realize that the offices of prophet and apostle are NOT equivalents to the sign gifts given by the Spirit. This is true for several reasons.

  1. The Spirit gives the sign gifts to whom He wills within the body for the building up of the body
  2. Paul lists prophets and apostles in the same list with gifts of healings and tongues in 12:28
  3. Paul calls the gift of prophecy “partial” or imperfect. We never see that in the OT. In fact, what we do see in Deut 13 and 18 is a clear call about false prophets not sent by God to reveal truth. So we see these are not one in the same
  4. We are told by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 and 1 Corinthians 14 to weigh prophecies. We don’t see that with the prophets or apostles. But we see it here. We’re also told how tongues should function and how they can be controlled, though the Spirit prompts things onto believers. Interpreted tongues builds up the body; uninterpreted tongues doesn’t which is why he calls for that to remain silent in corporate worship.

3. Signs of a True Apostle Argument – This argument is used to discredit continuationists and bolster the cessationists view, but not so fast. My former pastor, Sam Storms, has a solid exegetical reason this 2 Corinthians 12:11-13 text ought not be in this debate:

But what precisely are the “signs of a true apostle” so evident in Paul’s life and ministry? Some insist that the “signs” or “marks” or “characteristic features” of an apostle consist preeminently of the “signs and wonders and mighty works” that Paul performed while in their midst. The NIV contributes to this by translating as follows: “The things that mark an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles – were done among you with great perseverance.” This rendering leads one to believe that Paul is identifying the “signs/marks” of an apostle with the miraculous phenomena performed among the Corinthians. But those of you who can read Greek will recognize that the word “signs” is in the nominative case whereas “signs and wonders and mighty works” are in the dative. Therefore, contrary to what many have thought, Paul does not say the insignia of an apostle are signs, wonders and miracles. Rather, as the ESV more accurately translates, Paul asserts that the signs of a true apostle were performed among you “with [or accompanied by] signs and wonders and mighty works.”

Undoubtedly all apostles of Christ ministered in the power of miraculous deeds. But so too did other, non-apostolic, Christians. Consider, for example, (1) the 70 who were commissioned in Luke 10:9,19-20; (2) at least 108 people among the 120 who were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost; (3) Stephen (Acts 6-7); (4) Phillip (Acts 8); (5) Ananias (Acts 9); (6) Agabus (Acts 11 and 21); (7) church members in Antioch (Acts 13:1); (8) new converts in Ephesus (Acts 19:6); (9) women at Caesarea (Acts 21:8-9); (10) the unnamed brethren of Galatians 3:5; (11) believers in Rome (Rom. 12:6-8); (12) believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 12-14); and (13) Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:19-20). These three terms (“signs,” “wonders,” “mighty works”) appear together on five occasions: here in 2 Corinthians 12:12, as well as in Acts 2:22; Romans 15:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; and Hebrews 2:4. If there is a distinction between them it is that “signs” have the capacity to authenticate and point to something spiritually significant beyond themselves, while “wonders” or “marvels” arouse awe and amazement and “mighty works” or more literally “powers” display the omnipotence of God.

To make my point clear, consider 1 Corinthians 12:10 where Paul lists among the many gifts that are distributed to average, non-apostolic, Christians in the body of Christ, “the working of miracles.” The word “miracle” here is the same that we find in 2 Corinthians 12:12 translated “mighty works.” My point is simply that whereas signs and wonders and mighty works were an essential element in the ministry of a true apostle of Christ, such as Paul, they were by no means restricted to that elite company. Average, non-apostolic believers also operated in these supernatural giftings.

I do believe there are other arguments used by the cessationists brethren, but I don’t find those worthy to address. I do hope I have rightly identified the good and the lacking of the conference and laid out a biblical foundation for continuationism.

The one key thing to remember about this argument as it centers around 1 Corinthians is the sufficiency and authority of this book. There are so many rich nuggets of truth found in 1 Corinthians. In every single chapter. Sometimes you can just camp out in this book and teach doctrine about church life, salvation, marriage, civil matters, holiness, resurrection, brotherly love, and pastors being paid for preaching. And I think both camps are faithful to preach this book as they see it. The problem arises when someone preaches through 1 Corinthians giving the people of God gospel motivated commands to obey and honor Jesus, but then get to chapters 12-14.

The cessationist may teach it as fairly as they know how but ultimately end up telling his people that these 3 chapters aren’t really relevant for us today because the focus of this pericope is about gifts that ceased after the 1st century. And once they get to chapter 15, they’re preaching relevant for today messages. Now that’s a problem. This New Testament book is for the New Testament church. It takes great hubris to say all of this book is relevant for today minus these 3 chapters! In all fairness, I think most cessationists would begin their relevant for today messages in chapter 14 when it speaks about doing things in decency and order. Although they totally miss the BIG IDEA of that chapter, they may very well teach that as something to obey today. But we must not lose sight that Paul is responding to the Church after receiving a letter detailing several issues they’ve had that need to be straightened out.

Continuationism is a view that has the least objectionable points. I think this is why so many land at the “open but cautious” view within Protestantism simply because the text doesn’t say that certain gifts have ceased after the 1st century. They and continuationists choose to let the text speak for itself, heed the words of Paul (weigh, don’t despise) and John (test everything), and let the mystery of how to best pinpoint and box in the work of the Spirit remain a mystery.

Watch Out For Da Hook

October 15, 2013
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Times are a-changing. What was once factual is no longer so. What was once something we could count on is no longer the case. Foundations are shaking and founding documents (and arguments) are being replaced with today’s wisdom. Everything is up for grabs, people. Depending on your age, what you learned in grade school and up could possibly be considered wrong, old, and out-of-date.

This change is what our world has been asking for quite some time now. And now here comes that inevitable hook for the Church! I refer to it as the postmodern pressure hook punch. Truth is now becoming whatever you make it. We get to decide what’s true, or when it needs to be changed to fit the temperature of the culture. The culture changes all the time and the always evolving position changes month to month. Frankly it’s hard to keep up. One month the need to help the disenfranchised is front and center; next it’s the immigration issue; then it’s gay marriage.

All of these issues are presented in the media and social media as things the Church doesn’t have an answer to. And sometimes we prove them right. We’re answering questions truthfully without love. We’re answering questions with the hypocritical judgement we’re called to be concerned about before giving a response. We’re answering questions with rules and to-do lists instead of offering the grace of God through Jesus in the gospel.

Do you see it coming? Here comes da hook. We, the church, deserve this gut busting blow. We’ve got to put an end to these knee-jerk attitudes and answers. It’s nigh time we embody what Peter was getting at when he called us to “in [our] hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Christ calls us to check our behavior through a filter that is grace found in the gospel. Until we get that, and share it with the brethren, watch out for da hook!

Family Feast

October 15, 2013
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“Lord, I pray this food be nourishment for our bodies.” This is what’s normally prayed before people dig in some food. It’s oft-repeated that now it’s the norm. May this sentiment be evermore true when the family comes together to feast.

A 17th century Baptist pastor from England, William Kiffin, had this to say about the family feast: “it’s a vehicle of spiritual nourishment.”  The family feast he spoke of was the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper taken by the Lord’s body. I deemed it ‘family feast’ simply because the body is made up of believers who are adopted into God’s family. So when the local church decides to observe the church ordinance, make no mistake about it, there’s a family feast to be had. Now the Kiffin quote can be best understood as the only feast that provides spiritual nourishment for the spiritual family.

Why is this family feast label helpful? I’m glad you asked. I’ve come to understand that many people develop their understanding of the Lord’s Supper based on how their parents view it. If your parents take it lightly, so will the listening ears of their kids. If your parents thought it warranted by Scripture to take communion at home, then most likely you’d see no problem with that. In relation to that, if your parents don’t deem it necessary to show up when the church gathers, then your kids will follow suit. And these are just mere off-the-cuff suggestions. I’m sure there a myriad of other opinions on the Lord’s Supper.

I’m also concerned that some parents, young adults, and teenagers who call themselves Christians have not developed a biblical and mature reason for seeing the importance of the Lord’s Supper to the family. So I write this hoping to make it clear both in my mind as well as yours by equipping us with a biblically mature, rock solid stance on this issue.

One thing that cannot be argued against is that the local church of Jesus Christ is indeed a part of the family of God. So when the family comes together to eat, while the bible refers to it as love feasts, I prefer calling it family feast to stress a few things. First, we’re spiritual family. Second, we come together to eat a spiritual meal. Third, we get vertical and horizontal benefits from partaking of this meal.

1 Corinthians 10 and 11 serve as our best places to read about the family feast, and be cautioned to not eat in vain.

So will this new view of a spiritual family eating a spiritual meal change how you think and approach the Lord’s Supper? I sure hope so

Should It Matter Who Leads?

October 15, 2013
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In what’s probably known as the most doctrine-heavy book in the Bible, Romans, there’s a chapter, 8, that gets relegated to a few verses by Protestantism and Reformed brethren far too often. Typically we only hear Romans 8:28ff preached, which isn’t a bad thing. But it is an unfortunate thing. The argument being presented by Paul is predicated on believers living a life in the Holy Spirit. If we are honest, this topic frightens us, but I frankly don’t know why. Romans 8:14 couldn’t be clearer: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Should it matter who leads you, the believer? I’d say that this question has eternal ramifications attached to it.  Those who live according to the Spirit are led by the Spirit. Is that you? Those whom the Spirit lives in are led by the Spirit. Is that you? Those whom the Spirit bears witness with are led by the Spirit. Is that you?

Now it’s far too easy to answer yes to these questions without carefully thinking through them. Because if we are children of God, then we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. And no believer wants to reject that being true of them. So what are we supposed to do now?

If we don’t first identify the real person, power, and presence of the Spirit in our lives, we will leave ourselves incapable of being truly led by the Spirit. Now that may sound like a dangerous step to take, but I don’t think Paul gives us any other choice. “To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” This life is eternal life, and this peace is the peace Paul referenced in the first verse of chapter 8, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Paul even ties our being led by the Spirit to the opposite of being a slave to the law, unable to please God, and being led by the flesh.

The Spirit who awakens you to the new birth, illumines the biblical text for understanding, seals you for glorification, convicts you of sin is the same 3rd person of the Trinity who leads you in all things – or you aren’t saved. So the logic goes as follows: it matters who leads you

God, Gays, Gospel

October 1, 2013
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This is a subject that has been covered backwards and forwards by all sorts of smarter deep thinkers than I am. However, I do feel the need to throw my 2 cents into the overran pile.

So what’s the big deal with how God feels about gays, and feels about the treatment God’s people give to gays, and how the gospel factors into all of this?

In an effort to be short and sweet, allow me to be frank.

Gays are boastful. Gays are proud. Gays like to push the limits of their ability to flaunt their lifestyle in your face while daring you to judge or discriminate. Gays hold to the double standard. I know some gays are extremely personable and easy to get along with on a regular basis. Bottom line is gays are unashamed of their lifestyle and expect God and God’s people to be accepting of it. But God is the creator of the living and the dead, and Psalm 5:5 clearly says God hates all evildoers. Therefore, God hates gays.

The aforementioned paragraph applies to lots of groups, not just gays. You could swap out the word unrepentant, pedophiles, hypocrites, etc. God hates all evildoers.

God’s people are followers of God. They are hearers and doers of God and his Word. With that being said, they are to maintain that God hates evildoers and sin without a wince. They are also to maintain the beauty of the gospel in conjunction with telling gays where they stand with God. The gospel is the good news brought to dark, wicked places where dark, wicked people live. That’s Romans 1:16.

The gospel tells gays that how they are living isn’t consistent with what God planned for them, nor will it be tolerated forever. The gospel tells gays that at this moment the wrath of God lies on them, but there has been a substitute given by this same God to embody all the punishment of sins for those who put their repentant faith in Jesus.

The gospel should humble God’s people as they are having conversations with gays, bottom line. The gospel is about what God did for the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus, which ultimately means humility and grace ought to shower the voice and demeanor of God’s people.

So to wrap this up – gays are boastful and expecting something God will never grant them; God hates all evildoers which includes gays; God’s people ought to be graceful with gays while maintaining the character of God hating them and extending the call to believe the gospel to them.

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How the Church Can Flourish

October 1, 2013
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I often wonder about the theology of the local church. I’m bound to start with the leadership, and rightfully so since they are the main teachers of the Bible. And yet I have come to realize that the oldest members in those chairs or the most respected members/committees in the church dictate a lot about the theology of the local church. If the people won’t listen and respond, then the leadership gets discouraged or just plain ol’ gives up.

So then I began thinking how the local church can flourish…and this is all I’ve come up with: when we realize that God is all ears, that Jesus is all we need, and the Holy Spirit is already all ours. In other words, become dependent on the Trinity so that we’d pray.

Once this is taught from the pulpits and brought into the homes and taught to family members, the local church will struggle instead of flourish.

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