Archives For Theology

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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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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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February 23, 2017

For Lent, give up Lent

by Jesse Johnson

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A friend of mine was recently asked by a local youth pastor, “What’d you give up for Lent?” My friend quipped, “Lent.”

I can’t help but notice a growth in evangelicals who want to celebrate Lent by “giving something up.” I’ve heard of Christians giving up sugar, soda, Angry Birds, and Netflix (ok, I made up the last one—I’ve never heard of anyone giving up Netflix). For some evangelicals, apparently Lent is the new New Year’s. Those old resolutions were dropped by Feb 10, so time to dust them off and start over on March 1.

That is a bad idea. Here are a three reasons you should give up Lent for Lent:  Continue Reading…

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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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Were believers under the Old Covenant permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit? Was Spirit baptism an Old Testament reality?

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No. While the Holy Spirit regenerated sinners in the Old Testament, the indwelling of the Spirit in the hearts/lives of believers began at Pentecost. I am a dispensationalist, and I see the church as beginning in Acts 2. I am a progressive, leaky, modified dispensationalist, but even in my compromised form, I cannot imagine any understanding of the uniqueness of the church that simultaneously rejects the uniqueness of Spirit baptism and indwelling. Continue Reading…

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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trump tower protestWith President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration behind him a dilemma faces those who marched on Trump Tower waving signs that declared “NOT MY PRESIDENT.” They can either submit to the reality ushered in by the inauguration day—that Donald Trump is now POTUS—or they can ignore reality and keep protesting.

If they remain at Trump Tower they will look rather pathetic since their target has now moved to his new, blanched digs. If they do show up at the White House it will prove that in some begrudging respect those who aver that he is not their president tacitly concur that he is in fact the president of their country.

At least they have the security blanket of term limits for consolation.

This cognitive dissonance will thrive in the afterglow of the Oxford Dictionary’s party to unveil its word-of-the-year: “post-truth” (which is actually two words, but ignoring that fact is the epitome of post-truth, which makes the choice even edgier).

The same existential crisis loomed heavy over the Jews of Jesus’ day. Here was a man who claimed to be the King of the Jews, the fulfillment of the prophecies that he would rule in power and justice and liberate his people. But he was submissive to authority, happy to pay taxes to Caesar, not looking for any trouble with the Roman oppressors, and generally not very regal in his behavior. He might be their king, but he was not yet the king of their country. Some Jews rejected him outright as “not my king” and others were devoted followers, acknowledging him as their king, and eagerly awaiting the day his kingdom arrived.

So did the kingdom of God come when Jesus came?

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I recently had the privilege of sitting down with David Wheaton on The Christian Worldview radio program to talk about my book, Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness. It was a pleasure to be David’s guest and to meditate again on the Bible’s foundational truths concerning the believer’s pursuit of sanctification. I hope our conversation will be edifying to you as well.

 

1:44 – Tell us about your background, how you became a follower of Christ, and what you do now.

4:51 – Can you give us a definition of sanctification?

5:55 – Sanctification is often thought of as follows: “I’m sanctified if I’m doing good things, and not doing sinful things.” Is that accurate?

8:35 – Explain the two pitfalls of Quietism and moralism in the pursuit of sanctification.

15:40 – Why is sanctification so little preached and discussed in the evangelical church? Or is it?

17:57 – What’s the relationship between sanctification and participation in secular culture?

20:33 – Talk briefly about how sanctification is both internal and external.

24:15 – What is the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification?

25:35-26:40, 30:28-30:47 – How is this command to fix our eyes on Christ the key to pursuing sanctification?

34:19 – One often hears about a “Gospel-centered” approach to sanctification. What does that mean? Is that the same as fixing your eyes on Jesus?

38:08-39:32, 42:29 – Talk about the idea of overcoming sin and temptation by turning our affections toward loving what God loves.