The Joseph Principle

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
miller_joseph.gifJesus of Nazareth was born in southern Palestine sometime between the winter of 5 BC and the spring of 4 BC. At the time of his conception, Jesus’ mother, Mary, was a Jewish peasant girl, probably in her early teens, and betrothed to a man named Joseph.

The Bible unblushingly declares that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:16, 18-23). “Enlightened” readers understand, of course, that virgin birth is a myth; and scholars have tripped over themselves the last couple centuries to assure us that the Bible is mistaken at this point, or that the original authors did not mean what they appear to say, or some similar dismissal of the text.

For the record, I believe the enlightened view is lost in the dark. Only a virgin-born Savior could secure the divine forgiveness of a believer’s sin which God’s Word attributes to the sacrificial death of Jesus. Be that as it may, Mary and Joseph, in anyone’s estimation, had a real problem on their hands. Young Mary was pregnant in a culture that strictly forbid premarital sex and characteristically ostracized offenders.
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The Worship Crisis

A Comparison Review of Proposals by Robert Webber and Robert Dickie

ancient_future.jpgWebber, Robert E. Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative. Grand Rapids, MI: 2008. Softcover. 192 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8010-6624-5. $14.99.
worship_cvr.jpgDickie, Robert. What the Bible Teaches About Worship. Durham, UK: 2007. Soft cover. 155 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8523-4659-4. $13.99.

This comparison review of two recent books on worship may surprise some readers. At first glance, Ancient-Future Worship by Robert Webber and What the Bible Teaches About Worship by Robert Dickie represent radically different traditions. Robert Webber hails from an intentionally eclectic tradition that can be described as liturgical and very ecumenical. Robert Dickie represents a low-church and very conservative Baptist tradition. Robert Dickie is a conservative evangelical while Robert Webber occupies a much wider tent. One would not assume that these two books have much in common—and that assumption is largely correct. The surprise kicks in when one realizes that both books spend a great deal of energy interacting with the relationship of Scripture and tradition.
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Observations Regarding Baptism

vanhetloo_baptism.jpgGod leaves much unreported, not to encourage our speculation, but probably to suggest to us that some things are not terribly important. John the Immerser introduced a new form by which to honor God and along with it an emphasis on its spiritual significance as portraying a personal determination to die unto former fleshly patterns and to begin displaying those patterns of proper conduct expected of God. Both the form and the significance continued to be evident in the water immersions during the public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God directed to be recorded, “Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)” (John 4:1-2). Reaction by the Pharisees led Jesus to leave for Galilee (3). Two things suggested in this passage are not directly asserted. There is no hint of any sort that those disciples who had been immersed by John were re-immersed when they began following Jesus. Both the form and significance introduced by John seem to have continued, appointed by God, not by man.
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Why Most Churches Don’t Plant Churches

734161_church_pews.jpgIn a previous article I highlighted some of the reasons why many missionaries do not plant churches once they are on the field. I said, “They have not been discipled in a church planting atmosphere, and they come from churches that have never planted another church.” When prospective church planters are sent by North American churches to plant churches in other cultures, from churches which don’t plant churches where they are, it comes as no surprise that few churches are being planted in many fields. Many missionaries have been discipled in a maintenance ministry rather than in a multiplication ministry. The only church life they have experienced has been in a church that focused on member care and which had never been involved in planting churches. While these same churches provide support for missionaries who plant churches “over there,” they neglect to plant churches “over here” in their own North American context.
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Faith Travelers

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.
954193_walking_on_sand.jpgWhile imprisoned for his faith in 1675, English Puritan and Baptist pastor John Bunyan penned his classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress. Seeking to illustrate in story form a distinctively Christian worldview, Bunyan chose to spin a tale about an adventurous journey undertaken by a man he named Christian.

As indicated by the title, Bunyan depicts Christian’s pilgrimage as progressive in nature. The journey is inherently linear. It is destination oriented.

As the story unfolds, Christian leaves behind the City of Destruction. Thereafter, he journeys onward with his sights set on attaining the Celestial City. Everything he does is fueled by the blazing hope of reaching his final destination.

Bunyan clearly intends to promote a future-focused way of living. Not only does the title of the book reveal his objective, but he claims in the preface: “this book will make a traveler of thee.”
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Three Cheers for the Volunteers

blumer_team.jpgI hope I’m not an ungrateful person. But I do know I often fail to say thanks to folks who have it coming from me. I believe “in everything give thanks” refers to thanking God, but surely a general spirit of thankfulness is in the penumbra. In any case, other passages call us to give folks their due, “honor to whom honor.”

Recent events have given me the nudge I needed to do that.

First, I need to thank all of you who keep coming to SI day after day to read or contribute in the forums. Site traffic is probably down some from a couple of years ago, but has remained pretty steady for the last year or so. There is no SI without readers for the writers and discussers for the discussions.
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