Reborn for Unfeigned Love - 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

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This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline. This one is probably now a two-part sermon, maybe even three.

Intro

An old French proverb (14th century) says “love and a cough cannot be hid.” Certainly it’s true that ultimately, like a cough, you can’t really keep love a secret if it’s the real thing. Remember Jesus’ observation: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples …”

As Peter wrote to the suffering believers of his day, he reminded them of their foreignness in this world, their belovedness to God, their new birth, their responsibilities. He urged them to live with a healthy, sobering fear of the right things instead fearing suffering itself.

In the final verses of the portion we know as chapter 1, Peter calls believers—even suffering believers (maybe especially suffering believers)—to genuine Christian love. In the process, he reveals four truly great opportunities believers have in the area of love. Read more about Reborn for Unfeigned Love - 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

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Book Review - Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy

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Jonah: God’s Scandalous Mercy is the latest in the Hearing the Message of Scripture series put out by Zondervan and takes to heart the purpose and intent of the series. The series seeks to “help serious students of Scripture, as well as those charged with preaching and teaching the Word of God, to hear the messages of Scripture as biblical authors intended them to be heard” (p. 9-10). Youngblood, associate professor of Biblical Studies at Harding University, gives readers an extremely well done and accessible commentary on Jonah.

Overview

The commentary begins with an author’s translation of the book of Jonah. This is followed by an introductory section that includes the author’s purpose in writing the commentary (p. 25), the canonical context of the book, historical context, and literary context. The historical context section is very helpful for the person seeking background info on Jonah. Because the biblical book has so little setting given within the text, many assumptions have arisen over time. Youngblood does a nice job of cutting through the assumptions and placing Jonah squarely in a solid historical setting. The discussion of literary context is helpful as well, as the author makes some really nice observations about the structure and message of the book. Youngblood observes two problems that intersect in the book: “The first is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s concern for nations hostile to Israel with YHWH’s election of Israel. The second is Jonah’s inability to reconcile YHWH’s justice with YHWH’s mercy” (p. 37). Immediately, the reader is given a purpose statement to keep in mind as he begins to work through the text. Read more about Book Review - Jonah: God's Scandalous Mercy

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From the Archives: All the Way Home

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(First posted in June of 2011)

January, 1945. U.S. troops battle for the liberation of the Philippines. As they make their labored advance, the occupying Japanese army burns alive 150 American prisoners of war at a camp on the island of Palawan. Fearing a similar atrocity, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger assigns Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci and his Sixth Ranger Battalion the mission of rescuing the allied prisoners held at Cabanatuan.

On January 30, Mucci moved. 127 Army Rangers under the direct command of Captain Robert Prince, supported by 200 Filipino guerrillas, led a daring raid upon the compound at Cabanatuan. In a stunning tactical victory, Prince’s unit killed 523 Japanese troops—losing only four men in the process—and freed 511 frail, starving and disease-ridden prisoners of war. At 8:15 pm, Captain Prince shot a flare into the night sky signaling that the improbable mission of liberation was complete.

Yet as that victorious flare lit up the night sky, the task was long from finished. You do not free 511 infirm prisoners behind enemy lines and say, “Gentlemen, it’s been a pleasure; good luck to you all,” and walk away. Through the remainder of that night, the soldiers who liberated their comrades escorted them to safety through many dangers, toils and snares. The mission was not complete the moment the prisoners were freed. It was complete when they were delivered safely home.

It is this kind of complete deliverance the Bible promises the followers of Jesus Christ. By His death in the sinner’s place, and by His triumphant resurrection from the dead, Jesus stormed the gates of hell, liberating those who turn from their sin to trust in His rescue. This cosmic victory over sin and death accomplished the most glorious liberation in history. Read more about From the Archives: All the Way Home

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The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 9)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Six: Officers in the Synagogue and the Church

Officers in the Synagogue

The classes of officers in the synagogue as reported in the NT are three in number, namely, “rulers of the synagogue,” “elders,” and “attendants.” The offices as related in the Mishnah include these three, but also others.

Ruler of the Synagogue

The Gospels mention two men who are identified as “ruler of the synagogue” (archisunagogos): Jairus (Mark 5:22, 35, 36, 38; Luke 8:49) and an unnamed individual who rebuked Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Mark calls Jairus archisunagogos four times, while Luke does so once; Matthew in his parallel account does not do so at all. When first introducing Jairus, Luke does use the virtually identical term “ruler of the synagogue” (archon tes sunagoges, 8:41) which is simply the same Greek elements not combined into a compound word. Matthew refers to him simply as “ruler” (archon, Matthew 9:19, 23), making no specific mention of any connection to the synagogue. It is of note that Mark identifies Jairus as “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22), which suggests or at least allows for a plurality of such rulers within a single congregation. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 9)

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 6)

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(Read the series so far.)

Natural theology and methodological naturalism

How can scientific naturalism be a child of Christian theology? That is a good question. One would think that such a methodology, disposed as it is to serve the worldviews of materialists and atheists, and presented by them as indispensable to good science, would have been contrived by them, but such is not the case.

In fact Cornelius Hunter contends that,

What we need…is a clear understanding of what naturalism is. Naturalism’s adherents think that it is a scientific discovery, and its detractors think it is atheism in disguise. In fact, it is a rationalist movement built on a foundation of religious thought and traditions that mandate a world that operates according to natural laws and processes. (Cornelius G. Hunter, Science’s Blind Spot, 50)

Read more about The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 6)
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Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Part 2

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Read part 1.

The doctrine of baptism

Baptists believe the New Testament teaches that baptism is only for a believer, by immersion, upon a profession of faith, as a step of obedience and public testimony. Baptists do not believe baptism is a means of grace or regeneration. Novatian disagreed with all of these propositions.

On the Apostolic Tradition (possibly written by Hippolytus) records the practices of the church in Rome in the early third century.1 Since the Decian persecution, and the subsequent Novatian schism, took place during the early to late 250s AD, the Apostolic Tradition is a very important resource for understanding how the church at Rome likely operated in Novatian’s day. It is a fact that the church practiced infant baptism:

You are to baptize the little ones first. All those who are able to speak for themselves should speak. With regard to those who cannot speak for themselves their parents, or somebody who belongs to their family, should speak. Then baptize the grown men and finally the women, after they have let down their hair and laid down the gold and silver ornaments which they have on them. Nobody should take any alien object down into the water.2

Read more about Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Part 2
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The "Midas Touch" of Good Will

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The term “good will” is one I love. Webster defines good will as “a friendly or kindly attitude; benevolence” or “cheerful consent; willingness.” It is an important term, one that can affect our entire disposition and approach toward life.

The fictitious King Midas had a magical touch that turned everything to gold. Believers do not have a “Midas Touch,” but exuding good will comes close. I have seen good will on the part of one marital partner literally save a marriage. I have seen Christians take giant spiritual leaps ahead because someone believed in them, expressing good will. Few of us realize the untapped power available to them when we have an attitude of good will. Embracing good will makes us a blessing to others.

I think of good will as a positive attitude that expects the best from others, sometimes despite previous disappointments. It is wishing well to another, hoping things will prosper for that person, or giving that person a fresh chance to deliver the goods. It is certainly foolish to trust someone who has proven inconsistent or obstinate; good will is not for every situation, but it is for most. Read more about The "Midas Touch" of Good Will

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What's in a Name

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One of the first rules of Appalachia is never mess with a drunken redneck.

I was reminded of this just a few days ago. It was Sunday evening around 6:30 and my husband and I had decided to take our kids up to the playground of their elementary school. Normally, we’d be at prayer meeting at this time, but today was Homecoming Sunday. We’d already spent the majority of the day at church, enjoying worship, dinner on the grounds, and homegrown music. Everyone needed the evening to decompress, and the playground and walking track sounded perfect.

As we stepped out the door to get in our van, we noticed a rusty, white Ford Explorer parked on the edge of our property. A solidly-built man in his mid-to-late forties was walking around one of our trees and seemed to be sizing it up. He was wearing cargo shorts, a dirty cut-off t-shirt, and somehow managed to have a long, straggly ponytail and a shaved head simultaneously. He was accompanied by a younger man, a copy of himself, minus the ponytail. Read more about What's in a Name

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