Archives For Theology

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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Now in my last post (which is here), I wrote about the sufficiency of scripture and explored that topic a bit, taking a look at what Isaiah 65:8-16 teaches us about gambling/playing the lottery.  Now even though I tossed out the “please don’t ask me every sort of hypothetical question” line, they still came.  I understand that, honestly.  It’s only natural for people who are thinking about things to toss out questions and attempt to feel out the boundaries of an answer.

Thinking

What about gambling for fun?

What about supporting the local hospital by buying a lottery ticket with no expectation of winning?

What about this?

What about that?

Now believe me, I am headed towards delivering some principles to address all those questions…but not quite yet.

Please be patient with me as this is a Cripplegate original mini-series, and I’m making the posts more concise in order to maintain an expected standard of quality.

That being said, let’s get on with the show.

So last time we talked about gambling and looked at a passage that many of you may not have known applied to gambling.  The whole point there was to point to the idea that the scripture often addresses matters more clearly than we may think.  Now, I’m going to point out a similar idea: the Bible directly speaks about far more issues than we often expect.  Today I’ll illustrate that by giving an issue that has come up for me several times, but initially caught me wildly off guard.  What is it?  Well, let me keep you hanging for a second or two. Continue Reading…

Pursuit of HappinessIn my last two posts, I reflected a bit upon the prominence that Scripture gives to joy in the Christian life, as well as the nature and character of this joy that we are commanded to have. We learned from Scripture that joy is not merely a decision of our will, but an affection of our heart. We also learned that joy is a gift and fruit of the Spirit of God, something we can’t just work up in ourselves. But we also saw clearly that it is our “bounden duty,” as Spurgeon said, to pursue our joy.

How is that possible? How are we supposed to obey the command to rejoice in the Lord always if true Christian joy is a gift of God?

I love the way the Scottish Puritan Henry Scougal answers this question. He says,

“All the art and industry of man cannot form the smallest herb, or make a stalk of corn to grow in the field; it is the energy of nature, and the influences of heaven, which produce this effect; it is God ‘who causeth the grass to grow, and the herb for the service of man’ (Ps 104:14); and yet nobody will say that the labours of the [farmer] are useless or unnecessary….” (The Life of God in the Soul of Man, 78–79).

You see, man can’t make grass grow. We can’t make the land sprout fruit and vegetables. Those are blessings that come to us as the gift of God. But God has ordained that the earth yield its produce by means of the farmer’s labors. In the same way, we can’t fabricate or manufacture joy by seeking to manipulate our feelings, or by whipping ourselves up into an emotional frenzy. Spirit-wrought, God-exalting joy is a gift that He gives. But God has ordained that we bear this fruit of the Spirit through means. And so when Paul commands us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” he is commanding us to make diligent use of the means the Spirit employs in working genuine joy in us.

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It seems like I’m apparently the “word study geek” here on the Cripplegate.  It’s not that I don’t write other things, but I have a blog that has around 350 posts and I find that the big study projects (i.e. the large word studies) are the things where I learn the most, hence that’s what I want to share with you all out there on the web.  Seeing that I am a little bit of a broken record with the word studies, I plan to do two mini-series and incorporate a word study into the first (see how sneaky I am there?).  The second series will be, well, somewhat different.  I promise that you will certainly not be disappointed, but I’ll leave everyone in suspense for now.

shocked_woman

So, for my first mini-series, I’m going to spend two posts laying some foundational understandings regarding ministry:

In this post, I’m going to unpack the term “ministry”.

In the next post, I’m going to unpack some ideas about the “call to ministry”.

I’ve had several conversations with people and have heard the word “ministry” thrown around in so many various contexts that I’ve heard basically everything and anything called “ministry”:  I’ve heard of “church ministry”, “children’s ministry”, “soup ministry”, “puppet ministry”, “lawn maintenance ministry”, “skateboard ministry”, “break dance ministry”, “paintball ministry”, “beach ministry”, “van/bus ministry”, etc.

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Rejoice in the Lord Always 2Last week I shared some passages about the centrality that joy has in the Christian life. Today, I’d like to think more about the nature of joy so that we know precisely what it is we are to pursue in our walk with Christ.

Joy is a Duty

First, we must recognize that we are commanded to rejoice. Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4; cf. 1 Thess 5:16). He is not making a request, nor merely offering a suggestion as if to say, “If you’d really like to make progress in your Christian life, if you really want to be a mature Christian, you might consider diligently pursuing your joy in God.” No! He’s speaking to all the Christians at the church of Philippi (1:1), and by extension to all Christians today. He is informing us of our duty. It is a present imperative, and so even if he didn’t include the word “always,” the original language would still have the force of: “Be continually rejoicing.”

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Joy - DefinitionThere are few topics that are more worthy of the Christian’s study and attention than the topic of Christian joy and rejoicing. Gordon Fee hits the nail on the head when he writes, “Joy…lies at the heart of the Christian experience of the gospel; it is the fruit of the Spirit in any truly Christian life, serving as primary evidence of the Spirit’s presence” (The Epistle to the Philippians, 81). He goes onto say that, “Unmitigated, untrammeled joy is . . . the distinctive mark of the believer in Christ Jesus” (ibid., 404). The great British expositor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, wrote that, “Nothing was more characteristic of the first Christians than this element of joy” (Life of Peace, 143). Elsewhere he said, “The greatest need of the hour is a revived and joyful church” (Spiritual Depression, 5). And perhaps the great Puritan Richard Baxter said it best when he said, “Delighting in God, and in his word and ways, is the flower and life of true religion” (The Cure of Melancholy, 257).

This teaching absolutely permeates the entire New Testament and is everywhere confirmed by it. Take in this staggering emphasis on the centrality of joy in the Christian life as revealed in Scripture.

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