Archives For Theology

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.

Glory of the IncarnationIt’s a joy to reserve this part of the year to remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This, of course, is what Christmas is about in the truest sense. Amid all the tinsel, the gingerbread cookies, and the trees and stockings and gift shopping, true Christians pause to reorient our thoughts and our affections to what Christmas is really about: the incarnation of the Son of God.

And that kind of theological shorthand has become so familiar to us that we cease to be amazed at the truth we speak of when we speak of the incarnation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

God. Becoming man. The infinite, eternal, self-existent, self-sufficient, almighty God, without shedding His divine nature, taking upon Himself—in addition to His divine nature—a human nature—truly becoming one of us. In the incarnation of the Son of God, it can properly be said that the immutable, unchangeable God became what He wasn’t, while never ceasing to be what He was.

The incomprehensibility of that thought alone is sufficient to bow our hearts and intellects before divine wisdom in worship. This kind of mind-bending wisdom is so lofty—so far beyond our natural understanding—that we wouldn’t believe it if Scripture didn’t teach it so plainly. We already referenced John 1: The Word was God, and the Word became flesh. We also see it in Philippians 2:6–7, where Paul tells us that while Christ was existing in His very nature as God nevertheless assumed to Himself the very nature of a servant, and was born as a man.

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4fea49f543ace4337df5a50f8916c6b1What Christmas commemorates is big for many reasons. With the incarnation comes the Savior. For those who repent, there is justification, adoption, redemption, reconciliation, regeneration, sanctification, and, one day, glorification. But if we back up a bit, with the incarnation, there is the arrival of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. It’s difficult for a 21st century audience to appreciate the century-long yearning which the Hebrews had for the Messiah’s arrival.

But why? What is the significance of the Jewish Messiah?

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brain-thinking

edublox.com

One of the greatest responsibilities we have as humans is to learn how to correctly use our minds. In yesterday’s post, we began looking at common problems we run into when exercising reason and logic from Isaac Watts’ book on Logic. We are creatures made with logic and reasoning capabilities. We are made by a logical and rational Creator. Thus, we are obligated to exercise our minds with correct reasoning in all things. But this does not always come naturally.

We began looking at what Watts calls, “prejudices of thought,” which are common errors we make in our reasoning skills. Here are the final three prejudices, which are both the most common and serious:

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Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

– 2 Corinthians 5:16–17 –

2-cor-517Paul speaks about regeneration in this passage. If anyone is in Christ—if anyone has become united to Jesus Christ by saving faith in the Gospel, if anyone has died to sin and self in union with the One who died to sin once for all—he is a new creation. Working backwards, from cause to effect, the second half of verse 16 notes that the very first result of regeneration is a new view of Christ. As unbelievers, we all once regarded Christ from a fleshly point of view, according to worldly standards, paying special attention to the way things looked outwardly and externally rather than internally and spiritually. But the regenerate regard Him in this way no longer. When Almighty God issues His sovereign decree for light to shine forth in the heart that is dead in sin, when the eyes are opened and the ears unstopped, when the heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh, the first thing that changes is the sinner’s view of Christ. We see Him for who He is, in all His beauty, glory, and suitableness to our need.

Working backwards even further to the first half of verse 16, Paul speaks of a second result of regeneration. Not only does the regenerate sinner have a new view of Christ, but he also has a new view of everyone else. When we’re transformed from the inside out in regeneration, and our assessment of Jesus changes, so does our assessment of everyone else in the world.

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November 9, 2016

Commander in Chief

by Eric Davis

dscf7955_filtered-22It’s the most important statement in Scripture. Actually, in all of written literature. Actually, in the universe.

“The Lord reigns.”

It is a phrase that appears five times in Scripture, four of which are in the psalms (1 Chron. 16:31; Ps. 93:1, 96:10, 97:1, 99:1). Despite the simplicity of the statement, it is not simplistic. When we gaze on this fundamental truth, we do well to pull over, park, and take a slow walk around this site so that we do not miss the grandeur of the truth contained therein. There is much to learn about God in nature and creation; his care, power, design, and creative ability. But we learn far more from his word.

The declaration, “the Lord reigns,” contains at least 10 sites to see pertaining to the supremacy of God. Like any season between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, these are appropriate times to take a longer than shorter gaze upon at least 10 sites contained in the phrase, “The Lord reigns.”

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Reformation Day - NerdsSo, I know I’ve posted this (and even re-posted this) before, but when Reformation Day comes around, these truths are what my heart and mind settle upon as I thank the Lord for what He accomplished through the Reformation.

499 years ago this upcoming Monday, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, kick-starting the Protestant Reformation. Nearly 500 years later, God’s people reserve this day to celebrate the rescue of His Word from the shackles of Roman Catholic tyranny, corruption, and heresy. The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the sufficient Scriptures had been recovered, and it’s been doing its saving work ever since.

Romans 1:16–17 stands at the heart of the Reformation, especially because of how central it was in Luther’s conversion. Luther speaks of how he had hated the phrase, “the righteousness of God,” because he understood it to be speaking only of God’s standard of righteousness by which He would judge unrighteous sinners. But eventually, he says, “I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open.”

Today, as we reflect upon and remember the grace of God that fell upon the world in the Protestant Reformation, I want to reflect upon the Gospel that made it happen—and particularly the concept of righteousness which was so central to the regeneration of the great reformer. And to do that I want to focus on another text that Paul penned, which gives us wonderful insight into the saving righteousness of God. In Philippians 3:9, Paul explains what it means to be found in Christ—namely, “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (NKJV).

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So we’ve made it through eight posts, covering different information about modesty than many were expecting.  I won’t do another summary of what’s come before, except to say that I’ve argued at length that “modesty”, in the Bible, has more to do with general demeanor and flaunting wealth than it has to do with dressing inappropriately.  For a more in depth summary, I’ll refer my readers to the previous post.

I closed off the last post by pointing out the obvious: I hadn’t yet addressed what would be considered standard “modesty” fare…namely talking about women who dress in clothes that flaunt their culturally-afforded fashion rights.  Today, that’s where we’re going; starting with the American Constitution.

Second Amendment

Many women think modesty talk has to do with utilizing the right to bare arms…or more specifically stopping at the arms.  When it comes to typical “modesty” discussions, the conversation often runs in one of three directions:

a. Guidelines to help someone determine just what a woman is allowed to bare before she crosses the line into “immodest”

b.  Trying to find explicit statements about baring/not baring specific things (knees, thighs, shoulders, etc.) in the Bible that are questionably there.

c.  Talking about frustrations related to how men can’t control themselves, no matter what a girl covers up…or how girls constantly get blamed for someone else’s sin.

Seeing that my summary of b reveals my opinion about that (rather obviously), and seeing that I’ve already taken a rather thorough look at the directly relevant scriptures in the previous posts, I’m going to leave that one as already dealt with sufficiently.  The Bible doesn’t directly talk about how many inches above/below the knee a skirt should be, or whether or not women can wear pants (and yes, I know about Deuteronomy 22:5).  People who claim otherwise are exegetical hacks.  The Bible does give direction on issues of what a woman can or cannot bare, but not specific guidelines regarding styles of clothing or units of measure regarding clothing length.

That leaves a and c, so let’s get rolling. Continue Reading…

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed that I’ve been heading in a specific trajectory and there are a whole lot of practical questions that remain outstanding.  Now we’re going to be covering a lot of ground quickly, so it seems like it’s time for a quick review of what we’ve covered so far:

sillywalks-clock

In the first post, we introduced the topic and gave a broad look at the categories of women in churches that have concerns about modesty (in various ways). I mentioned the four categories of woman as those interested in a) biblical modesty, b) historic modesty, c) cultural modesty and d) those interested in being “Christian hotties.” So far, this series has mostly aimed providing answers for ladies in categories a and b.

In the second and third posts, we looked at the biblical terminology by exploring the two main passages in the New Testament where the word “modest” appears: 1 Cor. 12:23 and 1 Tim. 2:9.  I only did that because the verses with the term “modesty” in them are generally the passages that people talk about when the topic comes up.  In 1 Cor. 12:23 we discovered that the idea behind “modesty” isn’t primarily one of appearance, but rather overall demeanour.   In 1 Tim. 2:9 we discovered that the idea behind “modesty” is one of “order.”  The women that God esteems are women who are marked by restraint and dignity; they’re honourable women.  The idea of a woman adorned in “respectable apparel” (“respectable apparel” being “modesty and self-control“) is contrasted with one who is not adorned “with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”  Again, 1 Tim. 2:9 aims at character rather than rules about clothes, though people often take the “braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” to be some concrete rules about “not dressing like a prostitute.”  At the end of that post, I suggested that the idea that “gold and braided hair was the mark of a prostitute in ancient Roman culture” was essentially a myth. Continue Reading…

In the previous post, I dug through 1 Peter 3:1-6 and unpacked the v. 1-4 of that text.  I commented on how the passage addresses women who have husbands that are disobedient to God and God’s commands to those women.  Those commands would be rather amazingly difficult to obey, but God gives all women everywhere (those with good and godly husbands, those with occasionally sinful husbands, and those with wretchedly sinful husbands) more than just difficult commands.  Oh no.  He gives them firm truths onto which they can anchor their battered and fearful hearts.  In this post, I’m going to continue mining out 1 Peter 3:5-6 and unpack two titanium truths for securing a struggling heart.

In verse 1 Peter 3:5-6, Peter writes “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.  And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Here’s the first titanium truth: Continue Reading…