Archives For Evangelicalism

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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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It is said that there are creatures in the depths of the oceans that remain undiscovered to this day. Astronomers keep finding new stars and new planets each and every year that, for millennia, have been seen only by God.  Every undiscovered animal, plant, and planet brings glory to God by the mere fact that He sees them, and He gets glory from their beauty even if He is the only one who knows that they exist.

In much the same way, despite the fact that there is much to be discouraged about when we look around at the situation in churches today, I do believe that there is, also, much to be encouraged about. I believe that God has men whom He has specifically placed around the world that bring Him glory every single Sunday, and no one other than their congregations know anything about them.

Last week I went on vacation with my family. And since we were on vacation on a Sunday, I looked for a church for us to attend. It wasn’t the easiest choice to make as zero churches came up on the TMS and 9 Marks church finder websites, but eventually, I settled on a church based on a Google search. We showed up right as it was starting. The first song began. As I walked into the room, there were about 40-50 people present. My expectations were not very high based on previous vacation experiments we had tried.

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Author. 1825. Public Domain

Author. 1825. Public Domain

Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option has gained a foothold in the minds of many. David Brooks from the NYTimes calls The Benedict Option “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” What makes The Benedict Option‘s influence striking is that it made such a big splash before the book was even released.

For many, however, the Benedict Option (BenOpt) is an unknown entity or fuzzy concept. In light of these factors, I will explain what the BenOpt is and will try to explain why the BenOpt has gained so much attention over the past few weeks.  Continue Reading…

transfigurationJesus invited Peter, James, and John to summit a mountain with him. He then peeled back his humanity and revealed an unprecedented, electrifying display of unveiled glory. Oh, and then he was joined by two luminaries who had been dead for centuries. And then, just when they thought this jaw-dropping experience could not possibly get any more intense, the voice of God the Father resounded with a declaration of his unreserved approval.

Naturally, the three witnesses were gobsmacked. And very much in character, a star-struck Peter blurts out exactly what would have been swimming in my dazed thoughts in a mesmerizing moment like that: I don’t want this to end. Ever. Let’s set up a tent-town and soak this experience up forever.

But then—in a flash—it’s all over.

The dazzled disciples descend from the charged mountaintop experience and, before their brains have had time to acclimatize to the sudden loss of experiential altitude, they are immediately accosted with the frightful and gritty melee of a demon possessed burn victim thrashing about in a fit, while onlookers desperately call for Jesus to intervene.

I find this scene in Matthew 17 to be an apt analogy for what it’s like coming home to ministry after a glorious, edifying, encouraging pastors’ conference.

It is an experience that is difficult to relate to anyone who hasn’t had it. But when a church sends its pastor to a conference like the Shepherds’ Conference Summit, or T4G, or Desiring God, or any well-executed gathering of pastors, it is a boon that can be a defibrillator for the pastor’s heart.

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rosaryAs we celebrate the 500th year of the reformation this year, I’ve been very encouraged by the fact that there are so many in the church who understand that the reformation is not over.

Coming to America after growing up in Italy was very interesting. The world has a lot to learn from the American church, who, for so many years, has supplied the world with most of its Christian missionaries, and yet the American church has a lot to learn from the rest of the world when it comes to being able to condemn false religions.

This year is an opportunity for the American church to really explore what the Roman Catholic church actually is, and ask whether or not it teaches the truth. Secondly, each believer must ask himself whether, when speaking with the Catholic individual, they are asking the right questions.

Many Christians may accept the fact that the Roman Catholic church is a false church that teaches works-righteousness, but may have “the neighbor” who says he really loves Jesus, making it very difficult to figure out how to really know if they believe in grace or if they believe in works.

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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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I’m a sucker for a good sales pitch. I’ve plunged into various predicaments because I couldn’t say no. This weakness almost derailed my career path the day the US military recruiters showed up at my seminary.dress whites

They wanted military chaplains. Being a chaplain was so far away from my calling that I expected to be impervious to their pitch. But their chapel speaker, a major in the Navy in a Top Gun-esque white uniform and impressive physique, preached up a storm. He regaled us with how he got to start Bible studies on submarines off the coast of Iraq, how he would disciple pilots while jogging with them on the aircraft carrier, and how he counseled combat troops in exotic locations.

After chapel, a gaggle of awestruck students fluttered to the recruiters like moths to the flame. The recruiters in their smart uniforms all smelled so good and beamed friendly smiles. They talked of seeing the world and being all you can be. They had pictures of happy soldiers with gleaming guns repelling from helicopters like my childhood GI Joe fantasies.

I…was…mesmerized.

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nonnoenonnaMy grandfather turned 90 last week. This year, he will celebrate his 68th year of being a missionary in Rome, Italy.  He is still preaching regularly, not only in his own home church that he planted over 60 years ago but also around the country. He also writes for a monthly magazine and books for the edification of Italian believers. It has been an incredible ride, and I’ve learned so much from him over the years, but there was one day in particular that will stay with me forever. But first, let me tell you about his ministry.

It was 1949, World War II was just finished, and William Standridge, my grandpa, fresh out of college, was on his way to Italy as a missionary. He was 22 years old and had already decided a few things. If he was going to be giving his life for the Italian people, he needed to adapt as quickly as possible to the Italian culture. He would learn to wear what they wore, eat what they ate, and speak as they spoke.

Soon after that, he was on his way to speak at a young adults’ camp and although his desire was to dress like an Italian, he hadn’t adapted quite yet. After the war, Italians were experiencing serious depression, not just financial, but even more emotional turmoil. This affected their clothing. They all wore gray and black suits and ties, with very little color in them. As he approached the camp, he caught the eye of the woman who had organized the conference. She said that his choice of shirt that day was something she had never seen before–horses that were colored in every color of the rainbow. And so, he caught her eye even before she heard him speak. He taught them that week about his love for the Lord, and his ability to preach the Word stood out and she definitely wanted to get to know him more.

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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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This June, Immanuel Bible Church (in the Washington DC area) is hosting our third Foundry Conference. The conference has three goals: to expose young adults to expository preaching that will build a biblical worldview in every area of life, to sing theologically rich music that will lead us to a proper worship of God, and to provide encouragement for people from like-minded churches all over the country.

This year’s theme will be a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Our sessions will focus on sections of scripture that were critical in leading the reformers out of Roman Catholicism. Although this conference will be geared toward young adults, we will not be checking ID’s at the door, and everyone is welcome.

Registration is $40, and includes a $20 gift card to Immanuel Christian Bookstore and lunch on Saturday. The conference begins Friday evening, June 9th, and ends Sunday evening, June 11.

I’ll be preaching at the conference, along with:

Cripplegate conference
Mike Riccardi: In addition to his Cripplegate blogging, Mike’s real job is Outreach Pastor at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. Mike has a passion for evangelism, and a heart for the church.

Jesse Johnson: Jesse is currently the Lead Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. Along with Clint and Mike, Jesse  is the founder of The Cripplegate blog. This will be his third year hosting the Foundry Conference.

Eric Davis: Eric blogs regularly at The Cripplegate. In 2008 he planted Cornerstone Church in Jackson, Wyoming, which he currently pastors.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to bring a group, email me at standridge@ibc.church.