If you weren’t born into a Christian home and came to know the Lord a little later in life, you may remember your first experiences with “Christian Culture”.  You discovered a whole bunch of bands that you’d never heard of, a whole new realm of celebrities, and a bunch of strange new language.  Words that used to be somewhat acceptable were now taboo (i.e. certain terms associated with the bathroom), words that you never heard previously became part of your vocabulary (i.e. “Calvinism” or “eschatology”), and words that used to mean one thing now meant something else entirely (i.e. “charismatic” or “world”). testamints If you entered the faith via a Charismatic church (like me), one of the most quickly re-defined terms was “fire”.  “Fire” used to be what you called the results of tossing a match on something flammable, or maybe something you did with a gun.  Now it meant something way different. In Charismatic circles, there is often talk about “fire” of some sort: Holy Fire, Divine Fire, Heavenly Fire, the Fire of God, etc.  The idea of “fire” is basically paralleled with one or more of the following ideas: spiritual passion, having an emotionally intense worship/church service, really “getting serious” with God (or some form of personal revival), or some sort of outpouring of divine power on a person/church meeting/event resulting in a renewed passion of some sort (i.e. evangelism) or various “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit (i.e. euphoria, tongues, healings, prophecies, “miracles”, holy laughter, holy glue, holy vomiting, barking, crying, being slain/laid out in the spirit, visions, trances, screaming, physical pain, teleportation, etc.).

I had generally gone along with the Charismatic usage of the term “fire” with regards to passion or zeal, and not really questioned it since the term is often used in non-Charismatic circles in nearly identical ways. But, as I’ve grown in my knowledge of the Lord and his word I’ve found myself continually questioning my own assumptions and understandings and going “back to the drawing board”.  When we speak of “fire” in the previously mentioned ways, are we using the term in a proper Biblical sense? Continue Reading…

Yesterday I participated in The March for Life, an annual protest march held on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision.  If you weren’t there, you likely didn’t hear much about the event. Today I want to describe it to you, and then tell you why I have participated the last two years:

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The march begins at the National Mall, then makes its way up past the Capitol Building to the steps of the Supreme Court. It is impossible to know how many people were marching, but it feelt like less than last year, which was owing to the fact it was VERY COLD, and DC was hit by its biggest snow of the year the day before the march. Even so, last year there were lots of people, although estimates of how many were all over the map. Some news papers said there were about 65,000 people, and some others said there were 650,000 people.Obviously those numbers aren’t reliable. Most people don’t care, because the march is hardly covered by the press at all (last year despite having over 500k people there, an anti-gun rally with 5k people drew bigger headlines in most papers).

Two things stand out about the marchers: they are very young, and very Catholic. This is pure guess work, but it looked like 75% of the crowd was under 25, and about 75% of the crowd was wearing something that designated them as Catholic (such as church scarves, friar robes, or giant banners of the Virgin). In fact, I ran into a friend at the march who said, “whoa, another protestant!”

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evictionSuppose there was a landlord who rented out his house to others. One day he sends a messenger to collect rent, and the tenants not only refuse to pay, but physically abuse the messenger and send him away empty-handed.

Instead of summoning the police, the owner sends another messenger. After all, this may have simply been a case of mistaken identity. This new messenger will have all of his credentials in order. But this second messenger is likewise abused.

Yet the landlord is still reluctant to evict the tenant, much less to call the police. Instead he sends a third messenger, and this one gets murdered. Still, the landlord holds out hope that one more messenger will do the trick, and get the tenants to pay the rent they owe. So he sends messenger after messenger, some of which are murdered, all of whom are abused and rejected.

Finally he sends his son—his only son—thinking that he will command the respect of the tenants, but instead they of course think, “if we murder the son, then there is nobody to charge us rent, and we can live here forever!”   Continue Reading…

January 21, 2014

A Reformation Quiz

by Nathan Busenitz

Last week, I gave a version of the following “quiz” to the students in my church history classes. It wasn’t actually for credit, but it proved to be a helpful discussion starter for the new section we are starting on the Reformation.

Today, I thought it might be fun to give our readers (that’s you) an opportunity to take this quiz. It’s pretty simple. (Just don’t peek at the answers until after you’ve completed the entire quiz.)

For each of the following 10 quotes, identify whether the statement was written by someone during the Reformation or prior to the Reformation:

1. When was this written?

It is well known that You [O Lord] give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for Your justice, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that You are called not only just but even justice itself, the justice that makes men just. Your power to make men just is measured by Your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for justice, he will let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, have peace with God.

2. When was this written?

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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LThe next installment of our little TULIP series on Calvinism is the big L.

This is the boogieman doctrine of Limited Atonement. What is the debate? The issues is usually phrased this way:  “For whom did Christ die, the whole world, or specifically for those who would believe?”

If option A, the whole world, then why are some people in Hell? if option B, only believers, what about the verses that talk about Jesus loving the world? You can see what even some Calvinists disavow this letter, leaving them as diminutive “four-pointers” whose gardens bloom with tu_ips.

Put another way, “Did Jesus die to potentially save everyone or did he die to actually save some?”

John Calvin articulated that the Bible teaches clearly that Christ’s death effectually accomplishes salvation for those he chose to save. His sparring partner Jacobus Arminius said Christ’s death potentially provides salvation for everyone, but not effectually for anyone. If you were to illustrate this on a napkin for someone you might try this…

CALVINISTS say: Salvation is a NARROW bridge to Heaven that gets only the elect there.

ARMINIANS say: Salvation is a WIDE bridge with everyone on it, but it goes only half way.

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“Never, never will we desist till we . . . extinguish every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonor to this country.”

TWilberforcehese words were spoken by William Wilberforce, the British politician who worked tirelessly to end the slave trade in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Though Wilberforce penned those words in reference to the centuries-old and universally-condemned practice of slavery, they very well could have been written today in reference to our own national “disgrace and dishonor.” I am speaking, of course, of abortion. The constitutionally protected right to murder one’s own unborn child is the preeminent social injustice of our day. Should the Lord Jesus choose to patiently prolong His coming, the history books will surely regard such a moral atrocity with the same shame and outrage that we experience as we read about the African slave trade or Hitler’s Holocaust, bewildered that such miscarriages of justice could have been allowed to persist in a civilized and educated society for so long.

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January 16, 2014

Twitter 201

by Jesse Johnson

Yesterday I explained why I use Twitter, and I gave an introduction to the basics of the Twitterverse. Today I want to explain how to get the most out of Twitter.   Continue Reading…

January 15, 2014

Twitter 101

by Jesse Johnson

TwitterTwitter is a powerful tool that helps me stay in contact with my friends, and simultaneously helps me be influenced by Christians leaders whom I respect. It has been around long enough that it is awkward to ask how to use it if you don’t already know, because after all, doesn’t everybody already know? Nevertheless, I’ve been asked recently by a few people how (and why) to use Twitter. So today I lay out the basics of how to join, and tomorrow I’ll lay out some advice on how to get more out of it.   Continue Reading…

It’s been several months after the Strange Fire conference, and there has been no shortage of protest, complaint, misrepresentation, rudeness, and downright malicious slander and false witness against people and perspectives on both sides of the charismatic divide.

It’s like the conference bombarded the evangelical world with gamma radiation (namely the “evangelical sin” of saying someone is wrong) and a whole lot of people underwent a change.

hulk Continue Reading…

Everyone who believes the Bible does believe in election. Ooh, them be fight’n words. Let me explain…

mug chose meThe Greek word for elect means chosen or called out from a group. Used eighteen times by six NT authors. Yes, even in the NIV. So it cannot be ignored or denied.  The debate pivots only on the matter of election being conditional or unconditional.

Arminians say ‘I owe my election to my faith.’

Calvinists say ‘I owe my faith to my election.’

One says God elects those who will believe. The other says God elects, so they will believe.

I’m not putting words in their mouths. In the Articles of Faith of the National Association of Freewill Baptists, Article 9 states:

God determined from the beginning to save all who should comply with the conditions of salvation. Hence by faith in Christ men become his elect.”

i.e., your salvation is conditional on your faith.

So, does God elect you and therefore give you faith that saves, or does he recognize those who have faith, and therefore elects to save them? These questions must be answered by God’s word.

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