Archives For Evangelicalism

We begin today’s post with a question: In New Testament times, did the gift of tongues produce authentic foreign languages only, or did it also result in non-cognitive speech (like the private prayer languages of modern charismatics)? The answer is of critical importance to the contemporary continuationist/cessationist debate regarding the gift of tongues.

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From the outset, it is important to note that the gift of tongues was, in reality, the gift of languages. I agree with continuationist author Wayne Grudem when he writes:

It should be said at the outset that the Greek word glossa, translated “tongue,” is not used only to mean the physical tongue in a person’s mouth, but also to mean “language.” In the New Testament passages where speaking in tongues is discussed, the meaning “languages” is certainly in view. It is unfortunate, therefore, that English translations have continued to use the phrase “speaking in tongues,” which is an expression not otherwise used in ordinary English and which gives the impression of a strange experience, something completely foreign to ordinary human life. But if English translations were to use the expression “speaking in languages,” it would not seem nearly as strange, and would give the reader a sense much closer to what first century Greek speaking readers would have heard in the phrase when they read it in Acts or 1 Corinthians. (Systematic Theology, 1069).

But what are we to think about the gift of languages?

If we consider the history of the church, we find that the gift of languages was universally considered to be the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not learned. Continue Reading…

Having decreed that God did not invent marriage, our culture has moved on to a new cause célèbre: the claim that neither did God invent gender.

Last week Fairfax County Schools (where I live) considered a measure to no longer teach that there are two genders, but rather that gender exists on a spectrum, as well as to move the curriculum out of the science department and into the health department so that parents can no longer opt their students out. This all follows their vote a few weeks ago to allow cross-dressing teachers and essentially end gender segregated bathrooms.

By the way, Fairfax is one of the ten largest public school districts in the US.   Continue Reading…

Today’s post comes from a Grace Community Church “Pastoral Perspective” on illegal immigration:

According to recent estimates, there are over 21 million people living in the United States illegally. On a political level, much controversy centers around how illegal immigration might be better regulated, and how the government should respond to the immigrants who are already here. On an economic level, experts debate how the influx of immigrants has affected the American economy.

But our primary concern is neither political or economic. Rather it is theological and pastoral. From a biblical and practical perspective, how should pastors and church leaders respond to this issue? As those who minister in Los Angeles, this question is not hypothetical for us. Nor is it hypothetical for a growing number of churches across our nation.

Though not an exhaustive response, below are ten considerations (organized under four headings) which outline Grace Church’s pastoral perspective on this issue.

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473725556This past weekend pope Francis canonized four new saints in a ceremony which received extra attention as two of the four were of Palestinian origin. One of the new Palestinian saints, Sister Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), was a mystic and stigmatic also known as “Mary Jesus Crucified.” She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem in the late 1800’s. The other new Palestinian saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a co-founder of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters, who spent much of her life in Bethlehem founding schools and orphanages.

Despite the interesting politics of the situation, we will stick to commenting on the theological issues. What is a saint? How does one become a saint? And what is Rome doing when they canonize someone?

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It is hard to comprehend the damage that the culture of death has done to our society. Abortion on demand has produced a generation of women scarred by the trauma of taking life. Marriage as an institution has been corroded, the basics of morality have been lost, and motherhood has become more about convenience than sacrifice.

But often lost in our view of abortion is the role of the father. One of the many casualties of our Moloch worship is that the father’s role in pregnancy has been minimized and marginalized, while his obligation to care for the child has been vanquished.

By stressing that human life is a choice that should only be made by the mother, fathers have been eliminated from the picture all together. Sexually promiscuous men are free to sleep around, and if it results in pregnancy they have no obligations. Abortion is so cheap and our culture celebrates the women who do it; the result is that the father’s conscience is simultaneously seared and soothed.

And this too is now celebrated. Carafem—a Washington DC area abortion clinic whose motto is, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that”—has started this ad campaign in the DC Metro:

abortion yeahThe gist is this: a guy gets a girl pregnant, and can’t take five minutes away from work to talk to her about it. His response, via text message of course, is just get an abortion. See the point: abortion is so low-key that you can just tell your partner to get one by text message! With any luck, she will have gotten that take care of by the end of your shift.

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Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary? I was asked a variation of that question some time ago, which prompted the response in today’s post.

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The heart of the question centers on Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In what sense did Jesus become “sin on our behalf”? Does that phrase mean that Jesus literally became a sinner on the cross? Continue Reading…

The Word of God is far from silent on what eternity will be like in the eternal heaven (i.e. the New Earth). But why has God seen fit to reveal these truths to His people?

There are at least three reasons why the future reality of heaven ought to influence believers in the present. These might be summarized as: hope, holiness, and the honor of God.

001Hope. The reality of heaven provides hope for the future, even in the face of trials or death. Thus Paul could tell the Thessalonians that believers do not grieve “as the rest of the world who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). As Charles Spurgeon observed:

The very happiest persons I have ever met with have been departing believers. The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church, whose hands I have grasped in their passing away. Almost without exception I have seen in them holy delight and triumph. And in the exceptions to this exceeding joy I have seen deep peace, exhibited in a calm and deliberate readiness to enter into the presence of their God.

Writing about his trials, the apostle Paul similarly explained to the Corinthians, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Because believers know what the future ultimately holds, they can face the temporal troubles of this life with confidence and courage. Continue Reading…

God and the Gay ChristianAs the Supreme Court has recently heard arguments regarding a federal mandate that would legalize homosexual “marriage,” it’s important for the church to be equipped to defend their position from Scripture. True Christians are not against gay “marriage” because we are mean-spirited, bigoted misanthropes who love to force our opinions on others. We are against gay “marriage” because God Himself is against it, and He has told us so in His Word, the God-breathed Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16–17). Scripture tells us that to embrace homosexuality as spiritually permissible is to commit (or help others to commit) eternal suicide. And no one who truly loves homosexuals would ever be a part of that.

Because God has spoken on this issue, it falls to the church to herald His Word on the matter. Passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 are clear:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Timothy 1:9–11 – realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

However, those who would argue that homosexuality and Christianity are not mutually exclusive argue that these clear passages have been mistranslated. The word translated “homosexuals” in each of these verses is arsenokoitēs, and, the argument goes, that original Greek word doesn’t refer to “committed same-sex relationships” but “abusive male-male” relationships. Such an argument has been widely popularized by author John Boswell, whose arguments, though refuted by Robert A. J. Gagnon, are constantly marshaled by liberals as evidence of the compatibility between homosexuality and Christianity.

For example, I came across a post from Dr. Gagnon’s Facebook page (courtesy of James White) in which a commenter sought to advance this argument. (The following is lightly adapted for readability and accuracy, as the commenter misspelled numerous Greek words a number of times.)

“There is adequate evidence through exegesis of the Scripture and through transliteration of the words in question that supports the view contrary to your belief. 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9–10 refer to abusive male-male relationships. As I’m sure you know, the former contains the Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai and the latter contains only arsenokoitai. They each have, within certain translations, been falsely translated to the word homosexual, as these words are not a reference to homosexuality per se, and certainly not a reference to loving, committed, same-sex unions. Other Greek literature of the same period of time supports the view that arsenokoitai makes reference to a male-male relationship with an imbalance of power, for example a pederastic relationship.

Greek Manuscript“Generalising arsenokoitai to refer to all gay men and women is entirely incorrect. Its meaning is akin to that of men who abuse their power, economic or otherwise, to have sex with another (usually younger and weaker) male, or to humiliate another male. It may even be seen as an inadvertent reference to sodomites in the true sense of the word, being those who wanted to use male-male rape as an act of abuse, hence the term ‘homosexual offender’ in the NIV. The arsenokoitai often took advantage of younger male prostitutes; malakoi is translated to male prostitutes in the NRSV. The arsenokoites was the active male in the pair and, as I’m sure you know, such cult-temple prostitution was very common in the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s time. This is what Paul was referring to.

“On a final note John Boswell suggests in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: ‘Perhaps the most extensive evidence that arsenokoitai did not connote “homosexual” or even “sodomite” in the time of Paul is offered by the amount of writing extant on the subject of homoerotic sexuality in Greek in which this term does not occur. It is extremely difficult to believe that if the word actually meant “homosexual” or “sodomite” no previous or contemporary author would have used it in a way clearly indicated with this connection’ (1980: 345).”

Here’s my question to all Christians who argue based on Scripture that homosexuality is a sin: How would you respond to this kind of argument?

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Yesterday, The Master’s Seminary announced that it is planning to open its first extension campus this fall in the Washington D.C. area.

In the words of seminary president, Dr. John MacArthur: “We have an obligation to train men for ministry in the context of strong local churches, and this extension site allows us to do just that. In higher education there is a trend toward extension campuses because they allow educational standards to be lowered. Our model is different. We are not going forward with an extension program to make seminary education easier, but only to make it closer.”

The extension campus will be hosted by Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, just inside the beltway. Classes will be held in varying formats. Some will be fully-integrated through HD video and real-time two-way communication with the main Los Angeles campus, enabling students in Washington D.C. to fully participate in learning and discussions. Other classes will be taught in person, by TMS professors on-site at the extension campus.

Students will receive the same caliber of education and discipleship that they would in Los Angeles. For many, however, this will enable them to remain in the D.C. area and continue their ministries to local churches. Prospective D.C. area students may apply at http://www.tms.edu/dc-campus/.

The D.C. extension campus will open this fall, pending final approval from WASC (the Western Association of Schools and Colleges).

THE MASTER’S SEMINARY D.C. CAMPUS CONTACTS

Jesse Johnson, Dean / jjohnson@tms.edu

Justin Harris, Extension Campus Director / jharris@tms.edu

Jamie Jackson, Online Education Facilitator / jjackson@tms.edu

It is hard to fully comprehend how deluded our political and legal culture is over the issue of abortion. The United States in many ways has become a culture of death—a culture that embraces a mother’s murder of a child as a right, and then defends that right at all costs and against all logic.

Here are three examples of that.

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