Archives For Theology

“Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm. 1But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. 2For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? 3This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:24–2:3 -

For Your Joy

Paul is elaborating on what he said in 2 Corinthians 1:23—that it was to spare the Corinthians that he postponed his second visit to them, because he didn’t want a repeat of a his painful visit. He didn’t want to come before they had time to repent, and then have to come with the rod and punish unrepentant sin. That, he says, would not have tended to their joy (cf. 2 Cor 1:24).

But in the first three verses of chapter 2, we learn that, though Paul’s change in travel plans was out of consideration for the Corinthians first of all, they weren’t the only ones he was trying to spare from sorrow. Notice the repeated emphasis in these three verses again: “But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice.”

Is Paul being selfish? He’s just repeating over and over again that his concern is that he would not be made sorrowful, and that he would not lose his means of gladness. Unless Paul has gone absolutely crazy, and has entirely forgotten what he’s trying to accomplish as he’s writing—namely, to convince the Corinthians of his love for them—and is now finally letting down his guard and showing his true colors that he’s just a self-seeking manipulator—unless that’s what’s happening here (and it’s not), what we learn from this passage is that there is a way to pursue your own joy and, at the same time, love people. And that is when you pursue your joy in their joy—when you seek the happiness of others as your happiness. True, biblical love consists in the sharing of mutual joy—of seeking one another’s joy as one’s own.

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Seven years ago, a group of fifteen Southern Baptist evangelists met together to bemoan the growth of Calvinism within SBC circles.

When asked about his concerns, Jerry Drace (the evangelist who initiated the meeting) explained that some Baptist pastors are so Calvinistic “that they almost laugh at evangelism. It’s almost to the extent that they believe they don’t have to do it. So [Calvinism] gives them an excuse not to do evangelism.”

Drace’s comments raise an important question. Does an affirmation of God’s sovereign election in salvation (commonly called “Calvinism”) discourage people from faithfulness in evangelism?Calvin and Company

An answer to that question could be approached from several different angles.

One could, for example, consider evangelistic efforts among Baptists — comparing those who embrace the doctrine of election with those who do not. An SBC study “found that Calvinistic recent graduates report that they conduct personal evangelism at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinistic peers.”

A better place to go, of course, would be the Word of God. There are many passages to which we could turn (from John 6 to Acts 13 to Ephesians 1); but I would start in Romans 9–10. Pardon the anachronism, but it is no accident that one of the most “Calvinistic” chapters in the Bible (Romans 9) is partnered with the one of the most “evangelistic” (Romans 10). Clearly, the apostle Paul saw no disconnect between the reality of God’s sovereignty in salvation and his own evangelistic zeal. Continue Reading…

Sundays ComingOver the last three days, as we look forward to Resurrection Sunday, we have been considering the biblical and theological implications of the resurrection of Christ. On Tuesday, we examined the significance of the resurrection as it relates to the person of Christ. On Wednesday and Thursday, we took a look at eight implications the resurrection of Christ has for believers in Him. Because of the resurrection, the believer enjoys the blessing of regeneration and deliverance from the fear and slavery of death; the resurrection is the foundation of justifying grace, the guarantee of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the present intercessory ministry of Christ, the ground of our sanctification, power for holiness and for ministry, and the guarantee of the promise of a resurrection body of our own, free from sin and decay.

But this morning I want to ask: what does the bodily resurrection of Christ say to the unbeliever? What is the significance of the resurrection for those of you who remain outside of Christ? Whether you’re an atheist or agnostic; Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion; or even if you call yourself a Christian but have a mere outward attachment to Christ—you would regularly attend church, and even read the Bible and listen to sermons—but you have no vital union to Christ, no living relationship, and you still cling to your sin and aim to be lord of your life. What is the significance of the resurrection for you?

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Empty Tomb 2In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, we’ve been considering the significance of the resurrection. On Tuesday, we looked at some theological and practical implications of the resurrection as it relates to the person of Christ. Yesterday, we began considering the significance of the resurrection for believers. The resurrection is the ground of our regeneration, the ground of deliverance from death’s fearful slavery, and the very foundation of the Gospel.

But that’s not all. There are more benefits the resurrection brings for the believer in Christ.

The Holy Spirit

Fourth, the resurrection guarantees the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit.

In his Pentecost sermon, Peter is explaining the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit that has manifested in the disciples speaking in languages they had never learned. And he says in Acts 2:32–33: “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore”— that is, on the basis of this raising up of Jesus—“having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.”

So Scripture links the coming of the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit to the resurrection and ascension of Christ.

Jesus Himself teaches this in John 16. As He is with His disciples in the upper room on the eve of His betrayal, preparing them to live the Christian life without His physical presence, He says, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). The Spirit will come to permanently indwell the disciples because He is going to the Father. If Christ had simply died and remained in the grave, He would not have gone to the Father, and the Spirit would not have come.

And note how glorious Jesus views the privilege of the indwelling presence of the Spirit. He sees it as so valuable that He Himself says that it is to the disciples’ advantage that He—their Lord, their Master, their Savior, the Author and Perfecter of their faith, the one in whom all things hold together—go away from them! The permanent indwelling of the Spirit must be a phenomenal blessing! And it is ours as a direct result of the resurrection of Christ.

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Empty Tomb 1Yesterday, we looked at the significance the resurrection has as it relates to Jesus’ Himself. The resurrection identifies Jesus as the Second Adam, the seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, and the Son of David. It also vindicates the testimony He had given about Himself.

Today and tomorrow I want to consider the significance of the resurrection for believers. What implications does the resurrection have for the people of God? In fact, every aspect of our salvation—our regeneration, our justification, our sanctification, and our glorification—is tied in some way to Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The Ground of Regeneration

1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Peter says our new birth comes through the resurrection of Christ. Our new spiritual life that is born in our regeneration has its source in Christ’s resurrection life.

And we are made to share in that resurrection life through union with Him. Ephesians 2:5–6 says that while we were dead in our transgressions, God “made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with Him.” Because of the union that believers have with Christ, Scripture says that our spiritual resurrection in our being born again has its source in Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

And so the resurrection is the ground of our regeneration.

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He Has RisenThis coming Sunday morning, we will gather together as the people of the risen King who delight to bring Him praise, and will celebrate the triumphant victory of King Jesus, who died for our sins according to the Scriptures, who was buried in a borrowed tomb, and who three days later rose from the grave, triumphant and victorious over sin and death.

But the heights of our praise will not exceed the depth of our theology. Our praise to Christ can only soar as high as our understanding of His glorious person and work is rooted in the rich soil of God’s Word. Our worship of Christ for His resurrection will not rise higher than our understanding of His resurrection.

And so to enflame our worship of the risen Lord Jesus Christ as we anticipate this Resurrection Sunday, I want to dedicate this and the next few days to meditating on the biblical and theological significance of the resurrection of Christ. Today I want to focus particularly on what implications the bodily resurrection have with relation to the resurrected Lord Himself.

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Inerrancy_Summit_Faculty_SeminarsI published this yesterday over at Preachers & Preaching. I’m re-posting it here for any Cripplegate readers who may not have seen it there.

Last week, MP3 audio of the TMS faculty breakout sessions from the 2015 Summit on Biblical Inerrancy was put on the The Master’s Seminary media page.

These seminar sessions were in addition to the main sessions, which can be found at this link.

The seminars are listed below in alphabetical order of the speaker.

William D. BarrickTough Texts and Problem Passages: Evaluating Alleged Contradictions on the Pages of Scripture

Nathan BusenitzThe Ground and Pillar of the Faith: The Pre-Reformation Witness to the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura 

Abner ChouWhere Old Meets New: Inerrancy in Light of the New Testament Writers’ Use of the Old Testament 

Austin DuncanWhat’s Missing from Your Church Service? Recovering One of the Most Neglected Components of Public Worship

F. David FarnellThe Danger Within: What Happens When Evangelicals Redefine Inerrancy 

Michael GrisantiUnearthing the Truth: How Modern Archaeology Affirms the Bible 

Brad KlassenHas God Really Said? Divine Clarity and the Doctrine of Inspiration 

Steven J. LawsonGod’s Fugitive: The Daring Mission of William Tyndale

Richard MayhueThe Final Word: The Inseparable Link between Inerrancy and Biblical Authority

Michael J. VlachLetting the Lion Out of Its Cage: The Primacy of Scripture in Presuppositional Apologetics

Matt WaymeyerMen Moved by God: Dual Authorship and the Doctrine of Inerrancy

A while ago I was reading Matthew 6:25-34 with my wife and we were discussing the passage while wrapping up our night.  As my wife has been growing in her experience with walking through a passage, tracing an argument and noticing important components, she made a some good observations that ended up in some light bulbs going on for both of us.  Here are some observations that came out of our discussion:

1.  The “therefore” points back to 6:19-23, which discusses money.  In 6:19-21 Jesus warns his audience against pursuing earthly treasure and admonishes them to pursue heavenly treasure (in other words, chase righteousness instead of riches).  In 6:22-23 Jesus warns his audience about the dangers of covetousness, and in 6:24 Jesus drops the hammer on his audience and informs them that people who live for money cannot live for God; it’s one or the other.

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So, when Jesus says “therefore I tell you…”, the instruction that follows is not occurring in a vacuum.  Jesus talks about two contrary ways of living involving money, and now he continues on along that same track with a different topic.

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Inerrancy SummitIt’s hard to believe that Shepherds’ Conference is next week. For those of us who have the privilege of being around Grace Community Church all year round, it’s difficult to capture the sense of anticipation that’s been brewing over the last 15 months or so. It really is like Christmastime over here, and it’s such a privilege to witness that enthusiasm—from the leadership to the nearly 1200 volunteers (!) that will be serving the men who attend this historic event.

And historic it will be, as the 2015 Shepherds’ Conference is, more precisely, the Inerrancy Summit. Sixteen—count ‘em: sixteen—of the most trusted voices in evangelicalism will join Pastor John MacArthur for an unprecedented marathon of eighteen sessions of devotion to the inerrancy of Scripture. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. If you’re not able to join us next week, do make sure to watch by livestream. It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

In the spirit of next week, then, I wanted to post something today on the topic of inerrancy. Several months ago, I read the then-recently released Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, intrigued to know what the other three views (i.e., besides inerrancy and errancy) would be. Turns out there really aren’t more than two views, but such is the nature of things.

I thought the book was really helpful in singling out key issues that need to be addressed today. As you might have expected, I most appreciated Al Mohler’s contribution, in which he presents and defends the church’s historic position on the inerrancy, infallibility, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture—i.e., the view most clearly articulated in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Today, I want to share some quotes and notes from that chapter, with the hope of priming the pump for next week’s Summit.

Some are just direct quotes from Mohler that are helpful and incisive. Others are my own thoughts as I spring-boarded from what I read. They’re broken down by the chapter headings and page numbers are provided. Quotes are indented, with any of my comments below, flush left.

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Wallpaper_CalvinWe are only a few days away from what is shaping up to be a historic Shepherd’s Conference. The reason being is that this year’s focus is on one most important issue: biblical inerrancy.

And with the conference on the horizon, there have been some good conversations surrounding the nature of Scripture. One in particular I was in recently involved the idea of having a reverence for Scripture. You may have seen one of the conference graphics which quotes John Calvin from his commentary on 2 Timothy 3:16: “We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God, because it has proceeded from him alone.”

In response to that quote, an insightful friend asked, “If we owe Scripture reverence because it proceeded from God, would this imply that we owe the same reverence to creation, as it also proceeded from God”? (By reverence, we assume that Calvin means something like, “To revere or show deferential honor due to the nature of the thing.”) It’s a great question that needs answering, especially in our day.

Both the Bible and creation did proceed from a perfect and holy God. So, which do we hold higher, if any, and why?

Here are a few thoughts on why we owe Scripture reverence, but not creation:

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