Archives For Jesse Johnson

Judges 11 is one of the darkest chapters in the Bible. God’s judge, Jephthah, offers up his only child as a human sacrifice, under the incredibly sinful assumption that Yahweh is worshiped in the same way the pagan gods are. The story stands as evidence that without faith, God’s people are as depraved as the world, and that Israel is in desperate need of a savior better than a Judge.

(10-11) wrong becomes right

In the last few weeks I’ve read two articles (here and here) that have argued against that understanding of Judges 11, essentially saying, “no, no…you have it all wrong…God wouldn’t allow one of his Judges to do something that horrible… Jephthah didn’t sacrifice her, he asked her to live a life of chastity in service to Yahweh.”

I think this attempt to rescue Jephthah’s reputation comes up short though, and here is why:

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The doctrine of inerrancy–that the Bible is without any kind of error whatsoever–is closely tied to the practice of expository preaching—teaching line-by-line, verse-by verse. Their connection makes sense: if the Bible is perfect, than every word of it should be brought to bear on the Christian’s soul.

Thus one could argue that there is no real concept of expository preaching without a true understanding of inerrancy.

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Yesterday I explained that spiritual gifts were God’s way of uniting believers in the church and advancing the gospel through the church. Every believer uses their spiritual gifts when they serve the church for the purpose of building up each other (1 Cor 10:23-24, 1 Cor 12:7).

cessation.001

But there is an obvious exception to these principles: the sign gifts. By sign gifts I mean the gift of languages, interpretation, the gift of healing, the gift of apostleship, and the gift of miracles. These gifts were not merely examples of people serving the church, but instead they had a much more immediate role: they validated the ministry of the Apostles. This is exactly why Paul called them “sign” gifts (2 Cor 12:12).

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Tragically—and ironically—one of the casualties of the modern charismatic movement is a biblical understanding of what spiritual gifts actually are. By emphasizing only a handful of gifts (the sign gifts) many Christians have lost sight of the less glamorous yet more common spiritual gifts.

With a focus on tongues, signs, miracles, healings and the like, it is easy to be confused about how God through the Holy Spirit has actually equipped the church. That confusion isn’t limited to charismatic churches–in fact because of an avoidance of the sign gifts, that confusion is often seen even inside of cessationist and continuationist churches too. People think “those sign gifts are not what we do…” and the question of gifts never really gets around to “so what do we do?”

With that in mind, here are three truths about spiritual gifts. Understanding these truths will not only help you serve in your church, but will restore the wonder that God uses us to do his will:

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There are three books I often give away to non-Christians. I don’t use these like tracts. I don’t hand them out on street corners, or give them away at Starbucks. But I do hand them out frequently. I give them to those to whom I’ve explained the gospel, and who have indicated that they would be willing to read a book that urges them to come to faith in Christ.

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September 24, 2014

Five solas, two books

by Jesse Johnson

Painted by Stephen Procopio

Earlier this year my church went through a series on the five solas of the Protestant Reformation. In preparation, I went on a hunt for books that walk through them, explaining them and applying all five of them. I really only found two that I liked, and here I commend them to you:

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One result of our culture’s post-modernism is its entirely modern love affair with its own view of science.

Once-upon-a-time, the word science referred to the scientific process: verifiable propositions, experimental procedures, and reproducible observations.

And today? Science may still mean that in the dictionary, but in popular culture? Not so much.

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Last month I posed this question: Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry? Or, more particularly, in states that have followed the democratic process to define marriage as exclusively between a man and woman, should judges intervene and nullify those laws? Where new elections are held, should Christians vote to allow LGBT couples to legally marry?

I answered this question by saying that as much as it depends on voters, legislatures, or judges, that no, marriage should not be redefined. There are three parts to this answer:

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Why do names change between the books of Samuel/Kings and Chronicles? For example, in 2 Samuel 11:3, David looks from his window and sees a beautiful woman bathing in an adjacent house. He inquires of her name, and finds out: “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam?” And from there it becomes your typical king-meets-wife-of-deployed-soldier, affair-pregnancy-murder-cover-up kind of story, and ends up costing David his kingdom.

But this story can become confusing when you read in 1 Chronicles 3:5 that David had four children “by Bath-shua, the daughter of Ammiel.” So what gives? Why is Bathsheba’s name spelled differently, and was her father named Ammiel or Eliam?

This question is not just simply an issue of missing the forest for the trees—although if you ask this question, please don’t neglect the larger issues of what God wants you to learn from David’s sin and how that ended up dividing the kingdom. But if you spend any time reading Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, you will find loads of examples of this same problem. Names are changed. People have one name in one book, and another name in another book. Why is that?

There are two main reasons:   Continue Reading…

Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry? Or, more particularly, in states (or countries) that have followed the democratic process to define marriage as exclusively between a man and woman, should judges intervene and nullify those laws? Where new elections are held, should Christians vote to allow LGBT couples to legally marry? I say: in as much as it depends on voters, Christians should be opposed to the redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex unions. Now, there are three steps to this argument:   Continue Reading…