Archives For Eric Davis

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An unusual amount of professional athletes reside in the town where I live. The adventurous mountain terrain attract them. Big name brands in the outdoor sports industry gobble up some of the most talented skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers for sponsorship and association. And there seems to be a common theme among these individuals: they carry a sense of privilege when it comes to association with the most prestigious brands in the sports industry. They carry an unapologetic honor when it comes to the names that they represent on their skis, jackets, helmets, shoes, packs, and more. And though their respective sports involve hard work, it does not seem to dampen that sense of honor in who they represent.

I’ve wondered sometimes if I live with that sense of privilege with something far more significant than a professional skier sponsorship. If I’m honest, I have not. In fact, it’s often been the opposite. My own self-preferring ways combined with an entitlement-saturated culture mix to poison the great sense of privilege that it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

An attitude of entitlement may be more common than we think in our lives. Every act of complaining as a Christian bursts from a moment of entitlement: I complain because I see myself as deserving of my demands rather than privileged to know God. Lack of gratitude flows from a sense of arrogant entitlement: I am not thankful because I feel that it is God and people’s duty to give me what I want.

But, even a surface reading of Scripture tells us that life as God’s redeemed is one of immense privilege: “What is man that You take thought of him?” (Ps. 8:4). Salvation is where the most glorious Being in the universe allows some of the most offensive beings in the universe to know him savingly. Christ permits us to know him. He is the individual of greatest supremacy, glory, and majesty in the universe. There is no one like him. He is the Creator; the self-existent eternal One; the impeccable sinless Son of God; the Savior who laid down his life. The privilege is all ours when it comes to salvation.

Here a few perspective shifts which may help to remind us that the Christian life is an immense privilege:

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It’s a question that arises often. “What is a parachurch ministry?” The “para” in parachurch comes from the Greek preposition which can communicate, “alongside” or “beside.” Generally, a parachurch ministry is a Christian-based organization which seeks to come alongside the New Testament local church in a variety of ways. There are a myriad of wonderful parachurch ministries for which God’s people should be grateful.

But many parachurch ministries functionally remove the “para” from their doings. They would be better called, “huper” (“above, beyond”) or “antichurch” (“instead of, against”) ministries.

Some of the common problems with parachurch ministries include:

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Whether we serve in a youth group, have kids of our own, or we are educators, almost all of us will interact with kids. And chances are, those interactions will involve helping them navigate conflict. Johnny will scuffle with Joey in youth group. Suzie will offend Sally in class. At some point, the kids in our lives will likely be on one end or the other of misunderstanding, mocking, exclusion, accidents, hurt, and more. These are huge opportunities for us to tenderly and wisely shepherd them in how to handle the inevitable.

Not much will change when they grow up. Conflict will only increase. Consequences are more severe. So, we have a responsibility to shape the next generation in wisely handling the inescapable conflicts of life.

Whether toddlers or teens, here are a few considerations as we help kids handle conflict. The first few are theological, the last few are more practical.

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The claim is heard often these days. It usually goes something like this: “How could you cessationists believe that the miraculous spiritual gifts have ceased? You must not believe in the Holy Spirit.”

I have encountered this accusation many times from misled continuationists. It is as grievous as it is ill-informed. The implication is that charismatic views of the apostolic-age miraculous gifts are all there are to the Holy Spirit. If you reject those, then you must not believe in him. But this is a severely anemic understanding of the true Holy Spirit.

Even worse, it is an accusation of heresy. Charismatics and continuationists who make this claim are, in effect, accusing cessationists of affirming a heretical view of God. The biblical God is Trinitarian. That is, he is triune: God is one in essence and yet three distinct Persons (Father, Son, Spirit). To conclude that one disbelieves in the Spirit, therefore, is to accuse of believing in dinitarianism; that God is di-une: one God, two Persons. It is similar to the old error of socianism. But this is a view of God which differs greatly from than that of Scripture. Therefore, the dinitarian comment could not be more serious.

Traditionally and historically, however, cessationists believe in the triune God. They hold that there is one living and true God (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 45:5-7, 1 Cor. 8:4), an infinite, all knowing Spirit (John 4:24), perfect in all His attributes, one in essence, eternally existing in three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14)—each equally deserving worship and obedience.

So, if cessationists reject a charismatic pneumatology, is there anything remaining to believe about the Holy Spirit? If so, what do they believe about him? Far from being dinitarians who do not believe in the Spirit, here are 20 things cessationists affirm:

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1025_Atrophy

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If you’ve ever broken a bone, you recall something about that associated muscle; atrophy. Due to low attention and use, a muscle will become weak and emaciated, or atrophied. A muscle in this state is feeble and of less use to the body.

The same can occur spiritually in the lives of Christian. If we fail to give proper attention to the biblical process of sanctification, we can unnecessarily weaken our souls. And, when a church leadership shepherds with a weak approach to sanctification, they risk endangering souls in many ways.

With that, here are a few risks of taking an atrophied approach to sanctification:

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600541276_640Today begins one of my favorite weeks of the year; the annual Shepherd’s Conference. This year’s conference is unique, however. Fourteen keynote speakers have assembled from around the world to speak with one voice on the greatest movement of God in church history since Pentecost; the Protestant Reformation. With 2017 marking the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation, it is an opportune time to gather accordingly.

But, why such a big to-do? For centuries, faithful pastors and exegetes have spilled much ink on the necessity of Christianity’s break from Rome. We could talk about errors, for example, from Rome’s doctrine of the saints to celibacy; from Mary to the mass; from indulgences to inspiration; from purgatory to the papacy. But, there is one simple reason why coming to Christ requires breaking from Rome.

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struggles

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Hard circumstances surround us about as much as air. From a flat tire on a rainy day, to opposition from friends, to family scuffles, to grave illness, and more, we will not remain insulated from difficulty.

And our responding to the inevitable can make all the difference. On one end, we can, by God’s grace, respond with God at the center so as to honor him. On the other, we can respond with self at the center so as to send ourselves into a whirlpool of error and anger. None of it is easy. At times, we can get into patterns where unbiblical responding becomes second nature (or first). If you have struggled like I have to maintain a God-centered perspective in struggles, you may need a biblical mirror held up to help facilitate change.

Here are a few adjustments we might need to make in our perspective as difficulty hits:

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Last week we posted an article which argued that the idea of a heavenly prayer language is untenable based on Jesus’ command concerning prayer in Matthew 6:7. Additional questions arise on the issue concerning Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 14.

For example, some continuationists claim for the existence of two different types of tongue gifts. The argument claims that there is one gift in Acts 2 and another in 1 Corinthians 14. Among others, Nate Busenitz has demonstrated that this position is unsound from Scripture.

Other continuationists hold to the position of a heavenly prayer language on the grounds of various details in 1 Corinthians 14. As somewhat of a part two of last week’s post, this will briefly address some of the popular continuationist arguments therefrom. It will not deal with every detail in 1 Corinthians 14, but merely a few of the more common arguments posed in favor of the continuationist position.

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I remember the first few times hearing about a heavenly prayer language. Some called it praying, or speaking, in tongues. Not long after coming to faith in Christ, a group of friends took me to a few meetings where this would be happening. We gathered in homes, the forest, and a local church to experience these supposed, Holy-Spirit-induced prayers. What I witnessed was fairly similar: various individuals caught in a trance-like state, speaking, or praying (I wasn’t sure), out loud using non-language noises in somewhat of a repeated fashion. The prayers/noises sounded something like, “Hasha-batta, kala-hasha, nashta-kala, hasha-batta..”

Subsequent to that, others reported that they were having similar experiences during private prayer to God. They said that the Holy Spirit gave them an ability to pray in non-language sounds as a means of infusing their prayers, and encouraged me to seek this out. About one year later, I observed some of the same, a supposed Holy-Spirit-infused prayer language, while attending one of the largest, and most well-known charismatic churches in the nation. These were some of my first experiences with this prayer language phenomena. I soon discovered that it is a widely practiced phenomena (in various forms) both inside and outside Christendom.

I, like many, began to ask: Is this prayer phenomena in Scripture? And, if so, what does Scripture say about it?

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February 1, 2017

Why I Am Not a Buddhist

by Eric Davis
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You hear it often these days in one form or another. “I’m not really religious, but if I was, I would be a Buddhist.” “I don’t believe in organized religion, but I hold to the ideas of Buddhism.” “I’m attracted to Buddhism because it is so peaceful, loving, and free.” It’s becoming increasingly trendy to display Buddhist prayer flags on homes and public places. A form of Buddhism is increasingly embraced in the United States, with an estimated 5-6 million adherents. Notable celebrities, for example, who reportedly hold to Buddhism include George Lucas, Keanu Reeves, Oliver Stone, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Before getting into the reasons why I am not a Buddhist, a brief summary of Buddhism is necessary.

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