The Importance of Free Will and Purposeful Work for Children

I enjoy reading quotes about a variety of topics. Good quotes are condensed truth delivered in a fashion that is as amusing as it is thought-provoking. But sometimes I read a quote, which at first sounds so wise, witty, or practical, and then after a few seconds I’m like, “What?!”

I recently read a quote credited to Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, a successful businessman, investor and philanthropist, and founder of the Virgin Group, which, by the way, controls more than 400 companies. I’m all for listening to what hard-working, successful people have to say.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

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Election Reflections

Acme Ballot Box (c.188o, The Smithsonian)

What a surprise! Few anticipated the results from the recent national election. Marti and I stayed up much later than we planned, but we found it difficult to go to bed before the results were announced. Donald Trump defied expectations and won decisively. Hillary Clinton was reportedly left in tears at her unanticipated loss.

Nearly all the opinion polls were wrong. A politically inexperienced, brash playboy businessman has become the forty-fifth president of these United States.

Who, but God Almighty knew what was in store? The main-stream media, who were undisguised in their support for Clinton, are left with pie on their faces, and a whole lot of explaining to do. Read more about Election Reflections

Gender Design & Distinctions in Position & Practice

The Biblical record is univocal in considering essential differences between man and woman.

Genesis 2:20 describes an incompleteness in creation when there was no helper (Heb. ezer) found suitable for Adam. The statement immediately following the identification of the problem begins with thevav prefixing a verb: “and so He, Yahweh Elohim, caused…” What takes place in 2:21-25 is God’s direct resolution of the identified incompleteness: the creation of woman. Gender distinction is present as part of God’s design, and the two genders complement one another. God created the woman from man (2:22-23), and because God created her she has great value to Him (bearing also the image of God, as in 1:27). The broad design is that the two genders complement each other in unity, becoming one flesh (2:24). She is, at her core, designed to be a helper to man, and by implication man is incomplete without that helper. In the overall design, men and women do not function independently. Certainly there are specific exceptions in which God has provided a gift of celibacy, if you will, for some men and women to fulfill His plans for them without the marital union (e.g., 1 Cor 7).

How does gender identity by God’s design impact men and women outside of the scope of the marital union? Read more about Gender Design & Distinctions in Position & Practice

Theology Thursday - More from Arminius on the Law & the Christian

On “Theology Thursday,” we feature short excerpts on various areas of systematic theology, from a wide variety of colorful (and drab) characters and institutions. Some are orthodox, but decidedly outside the Baptist orbit. Others are completely heretical. Regardless of heresy or orthodoxy, we hope these short readings are a stimulus for personal reflection, a challenge to theological complacency, and an impetus for apologetic zeal “to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).

From The Works of Jacob Arminius, vol. 1, “Disputation 13 — On the Comparison of the Law and the Gospel.” Courtesy of The Wesley Center.

The Saints Under the Old Testament

But, lest any one should suppose that the Fathers who lived under the law and the Old Testament, were entirely destitute of grace, faith and eternal life; it is to be recollected that even at that period, the promise was in existence which had been made to Adam concerning “the Seed of the woman,” (Genesis 3:15,) which also concerned the seed of Abraham, to whom “the promises were made,” (Galatians 3:16,) and in whom “all the kindreds of the earth were to be blessed;” (Acts 3:25) and that these promises were received in faith by the holy fathers. Read more about Theology Thursday - More from Arminius on the Law & the Christian

The Gracious Hand of God

Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. © 2016. Used with permission.

O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy. Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us And nations under our feet. (NASB, Ps. 47:1-3)

Election Offers Unexpected Turn

Of the 17 individuals that competed in the Republican primary for the 2016 presidential nomination, Donald Trump was my 17th choice. He was dead last on my preferred list of Republican presidential hopefuls. However, my reticence toward Trump was quite different from the reasons for which most other conservative Christians disliked him.

It was not so much his potty talk or hedonistic lifestyle that bothered me. Rather, it was the fact that on virtually every issue he has, either by way of financial donations, public statements or personal writings said something different in comparison to where he claims he now stands on that same issue today.1 Read more about The Gracious Hand of God

Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 3

Introduced by Pastor Ed Vasicek. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Here is the last part of our “Purpose and Principles” document, developed and unanimously approved by our 1996 Elders’ Board. It grapples with what we consider to be reasonable and the proper balance in matters of how we conduct services, when we separate, and political activity. It continues to explain what makes our church distinct from both mainline churches and other evangelical churches. This line in particular grips me: “Our concern is that we are headed toward involving our people in edification and ministry, not matching anyone’s model.”

Views on Ministries

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Jesus, Satan, Demons and the Trinity

"The Temptation of Christ," by Sandro Botticelli (Sistine Chapel)

Read the series so far.

The Christ has been commissioned and anointed with power from the Spirit. His ministry has begun. Immediately, He enters into single combat with His own creation, the chief of all angels, Satan. As His ministry begins, we’ll examine two passages which shed light on Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

Jesus and Satan in the Wilderness (Mark 1:12-13)

The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs (Mark 1:12-13).

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Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 5)

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Problems with the Promise & Fulfillment Motif?

John Sailhamer is a critic of the common evangelical dogma that teaches a “promise-fulfillment” way of looking at the two Testaments, because by setting things up that way, the almost irresistible temptation will be to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and in particular with the first coming of Christ culminating in the Gospel. Such an attitude threatens to turn the Old Testament, the Bible of Israel, and of Jesus and the Apostles, in to a book of colorful stories and sermon illustrations for New Testament preaching. 1

This might sound very good. As a matter of fact it does sound good to very many evangelicals. So good in fact, that it has often been assumed by pious minds as a natural implication of having a New Testament. But the “promise–fulfillment” idea so frequently recommended cries out for a bit of careful examination. The received wisdom is that we don’t start by reading through the OT to find its meaning, but that we begin by reading the NT, with emphasis on Paul’s Gospel, and we then interpret the OT through our understanding of the NT, especially our understanding of the work of Christ. Essentially what is being urged on us is the hermeneutical priority of the NT. Without the interpretive mindset we have gained from the NT, so the thinking goes, we are not in a position to rightly understand the OT. Hence, the OT is to be interpreted, not on its own merits, but by the NT. An earlier quote from Goldsworthy again makes this clear: Read more about Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 5)