Archives For Theology

Death by ObedienceJesus’ food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). He had come down from heaven, not to accomplish some sort of independent, personal agenda, but to carry out the will of the One who had sent Him (John 6:38). And that total, loving, delightful allegiance to His Father doesn’t stay in the realm of the theoretical. Jesus’ obedient submission to His Father’s will doesn’t keep Him on Easy Street. He had received a commandment from His Father to lay His life down (John 10:18), and He was intent on continuing His obedience.

To the Point of Death

Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Surely, as the eternal Son of the Father, Christ had always, from eternity, obeyed His Father and experienced the joy and the fellowship of that obedience. But in His incarnation, obedience to the Father meant greater and greater opposition from all those who were around Him, until they eventually would kill Him.

Here is humility shining like the sun in its full strength. “How can it be, that Thou, My God, shouldst die for me?” The Author of Life humbly submits to death. The One who is without sin humbly submits to sin’s curse. The One who has life within Himself (John 1:4; 5:26)—the One who gives life to whomever He wishes (John 5:21), humbly releases His grip on His own life in submission to the Father and in love for those whom His Father has given Him. “’Tis mystery all: Th’immortal dies!”

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Jamie Pierre, 250 Foot Cliff Jump, Grand Targhee Backcountry, WYFor many who live in high alpine terrain, mountain sports like skiing are a way of life. As with any such sport, carnage comes with the territory. On one particular occasion, I watched a friend missile himself off a 60 foot cliff on a day which skiers would label the snow conditions as “boiler-plate” (referring to the penetrability of the snow). When he finally landed, the boiler-plate-like snow gave 4 inches (though he stopped, his skis continued airborne without him for another quarter of a mile). By the numbers, he was going about 40mph, landed, came to a complete stop in a fraction of a second, with only 4 inches of snow-cushion. That’s probably less forgiveness than landing on hot asphalt. Needless to say, he compacted a few vertebrae and was laid up for a month. And once it was clear he was still alive, the stunt provided for a powerfully learning experience as one might imagine: among other things, don’t imitate Eddy the Eagle on boiler-plate snow conditions.

unforgivingThe falls and mishaps of others are never occasion for juicy gloating though they must be for humbly learning. At our local resort, you’re the mountain chump if you chuckle at a big fall. But you’re also the mountain fool if you fail to learn from them.

As normal for any era between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, these past few months have seen a far share of ministry falls, scandals, apology-kind-of-things, disqualifications, and hard-to-name-types-of-things. As the church, this provides opportune learning occaions for us to understand the times and know what to do.

This is by no means exhaustive, but here are 7 suggestions in light of recent events:

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Have you ever thought about heaven as a city?

In the apostle John’s account of the new earth in Revelation 21-22, prominent attention is given to the New Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal heaven. Nearly half of Revelation 21 is devoted to describing the physical properties of the magnificent metropolis. Its glorious splendor will be the heart of the new earth, for it is here that God Himself dwells.

New_Jerusalem

Christians rarely think of heaven as a city, and yet that is precisely how God describes it (Heb. 11:16; cf. John 14:2). Cities have buildings, streets, houses, and citizens. They are places of political power, economic industry, higher learning, refined culture, and impressive architecture. These characteristics are true of the heavenly city as well, though the New Jerusalem will far outshine any of earthly city in both its magnificence and its might. Continue Reading…

angelThis post is part 5 in our series on the gift of tongues. (To access previous posts, please click here.)

In particular, we are considering the continuationist claim that tongues in the New Testament were not necessarily real human foreign languages. One leading evangelical proponent of this position is Sam Storms, who articulates his views in The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts. In this series, we have been responding to the arguments presented by Storms in that book.

In today’s post, we will consider one of the most common arguments for a type of tongues-speech that is non-earthly and non-human in character.

Continuationist Argument 4: The reference to “tongues of angels” in 1 Cor. 13:1 demands the possibility of heavenly (non-earthly) languages.

Sam Storms articulates this argument as follows:

Paul referred to ‘tongues of men and of angels’ (1 Cor. 13:1). While he may have been using hyperbole, he just as likely may have been referring to heavenly or angelic dialects for which the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

I am thankful that Storms (as well as other continuationists like D. A. Carson) allow for the possibility of hyperbole in 1 Corinthians 13:1, because I am convinced from the context that that is exactly how the phrase ought to be understood. Why?

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Many years ago, I was an upperclassman at a bible college.  Like most upperclassmen in bible college, I had spent a few years learning vast quantities of information and was both eager and embarrassingly incompetent to make “real world” applications of all the things I had learned.  In an effort to connect the theological dots I had assembled, I–along with several other Bible geeks–had a lunchtime discussion club where we would entertain issues of what we called “theoretical theology”.  We would think of (usually) bizarre theological questions, analyze them, and then attempt to come up with solutions to those conundrums. Most of the time, the questions were ridiculous but still involved big theological issues (i.e. dispensationalism, creationism, pacifism, Calvinism, the second coming, etc.) in a roundabout way.  The questions often were hilarious and allowed us to address serious issues in a humorous way that often ended up in carefully articulated responses.

One of the questions I remember the most was:

- If I am a New Testament Christian and I got a DeLorean with a flux capacitor and went back to the time of Moses, would I still be saved by grace or would I suddenly lose the Spirit and have to keep the law?

back-to-the-future-DeLorean

Now that question is both silly and impossible, but it was the manifestation of a few budding theologians attempting to struggle through and apply the numerous biblical/theological truths they were learning.  I’m sure that some people now want me to address that crazy question, but that’s not the one I’m going to focus on.  In my first post in this series, I gave an illustration of how the scripture often addresses matters more clearly than we may think.  In my second post in this series, I gave an (ill received) illustration of how the Bible directly speaks about far more issues than we often expect.  Both of those two involved matters that the scripture directly addresses and in the first post I made passing reference to “applying hand lotion to a penguin” as a theological question.  I mentioned in the comment thread that I would get back to that idea and now, here I am.

Am I seriously going to talk about the application of hand lotion to penguins as a “theoretical theology” question?

Yup.

Not the whole bird of course; that would be silly and needless.  Just their feet.

Let’s not be totally absurd! Continue Reading…

MacArthur and PiperSeveral months ago, shortly after the Strange Fire Conference, notable continuationist pastor, John Piper, responded to some of the claims of the conference via his question-and-answer program, Ask Pastor John. Over the last couple of weeks, John MacArthur has begun responding to Piper’s remarks over at the Grace To You blog. These posts represent valuable, rubber-meets-the-road exegetical discussion as it relates to the cessation of the miraculous gifts, and it’s happening between two lifelong students of Scripture who many in our generation consider to be fathers in the faith. It’s surely an exchange you don’t want to miss.

I want to devote today’s post to recapping what’s been said there so far.

#1 Biblical Prophecy and Modern Confusion

In the first post, MacArthur begins with some comments of appreciation for John Piper and his ministry, speaking of his gratitude for Piper’s friendship and partnership in the Gospel. He also takes some time to briefly clarify an apparent misunderstanding of what and wasn’t being said about Piper at the Strange Fire Conference.

He then moves quickly into addressing the issues that Piper brought up in his first podcast. First, he comments on Piper’s definition of prophecy, and notes how he “illustrates one of the central concerns of . . . Strange Fire: the charismatic movement, even down to the most conservative continuationists, has entirely redefined the New Testament miraculous gifts.” He goes on to engage with that redefinition.

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