Self-Defense and the Christian, Part 2

From Baptist Bulletin, March/April 2016, used by permission. All rights reserved. Read Part 1.

New Testament texts

Luke 22:35, 36, and 38 are the only direct New Testament statements about self-defense. Jesus had previously sent His followers on various missions with instructions regarding what provisions and equipment they were allowed to take with them. In sending out the Twelve, He permitted no staff, bag, bread, money, or extra shirt (Luke 9:3). When He sent out the Seventy, He disallowed purse, bag, and sandals (Luke 10:4). These were not, however, intended as permanent, normative commands for all believers for all time. That is clear since Jesus contrasts these earlier restrictions with what would be necessary after the Crucifixion.

In Luke 22:35, 36, and 38 Jesus explicitly commands His followers to take the sort of provisions they were previously asked to leave at home: “He who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack” (v. 36a). But now a new item is added to the list. They are told to buy a sword (machaira), even if they have to sell their cloak to do so (v. 36b). This was not a butter knife for their bread or a paring knife for peeling apples. The machaira was, as BDAG (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) defines it, “a relatively short sword or other instrument, sword, dagger,” which is most commonly referenced in the New Testament as an instrument for killing (e.g., Mark 14:43; Luke 21:24; Acts 12:2; 16:27; Heb. 11:37; Rev. 13:10). Read more about Self-Defense and the Christian, Part 2

Self-Defense and the Christian, Part 1

From Baptist Bulletin, March/April 2016, used by permission. All rights reserved.

A foreign nation launches an unprovoked military attack on another country for the purpose of gaining control of valuable natural resources or to gain control of a strategic military position. This is not the threat of such an attack, but an actual invasion in which force is being used and people are being killed. Do the people of the nation under attack have the right to defend themselves with military force even if that means many of the invaders will be killed? May Christians serve in the military and participate in such deadly force?

What if the Christian is a civilian? In which of the following situations, if any, would you consider it acceptable or appropriate for a Christian to exercise lethal force or to condone such force by a fellow Christian? Read more about Self-Defense and the Christian, Part 1

The Synagogue & the Word

The Capernaum Synagogue

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2015. Used by permission.

A former graduate professor of mine made a passing statement once that grabbed my attention. He referred to two types of worship: the temple model and the synagogue model. The temple emphasized ritual and the synagogue emphasized the Word. In this companion article I want to focus on three physical aspects of the synagogue that relate to the Word of God— the ark, the platform, and Moses’ Seat. 

The pictures below help illustrate these three physical features. The first image shows two arks, or special containers for the scrolls of Scripture, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem today. On Mondays and Thursdays young men have their bar mitzvah celebrations at the Western Wall. These arks are here in preparation for their reading from the scrolls at this turning point in their lives.  Read more about The Synagogue & the Word

The Tour of a Lifetime

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2015. Used by permission.

It’s like coming to a place you have never lived and having the sense you are home. Sometimes it’s referred to as the “Fifth Gospel.” Others say it’s worth a year of Bible college. Sometimes you hear someone say, “I have taken a lot of trips in my life, but none equals this one.” What do all these statements have in common? They all refer to a tour of Israel. In this article Dr. Ernie Schmidt, former dean of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, former interim FBBC&TS president, and a veteran guide in Israel, shares why believers should consider taking a Holy Land tour. In the second article Dr. Schmidt illustrates how a tour of Israel helps us have a clearer understanding of Luke 4:16–30.

The heart of an Israel tour is to observe the topography, geography, and culture which provide unparalleled insight into the Bible. When we are there, we do not use PowerPoint slides; we simply point and say, “That is where it took place.” Such “hands- and eyes-on” experience takes your knowledge of the Bible to a whole new level in just a few days. Every day seems like a Sunday worship service as we go from site to site and learn new truths about the Bible. Here are some reasons for investing in a study tour of Israel. Read more about The Tour of a Lifetime

Time to Put the Gun Away? Thoughts on the Auction of George Zimmerman's Gun

(Photo: NY Daily News)

Recently George Zimmerman has put up for auction the gun that he describes as a “piece of American history,” and which is notable for its role in the loss of Trayvon Martin’s life. The auction is currently being handled by the United Gun Group, owned by Todd Underwood (who I am told may have formerly been a student at Calvary—the school where I now serve as President). Underwood confirmed to the Washington Post that United Gun Group would host the auction, though he added “I don’t support it, I don’t condone it, I don’t have anything against it. It’s his property, it’s his decision.”

Previously the gun was listed on Gun Broker’s website, but apparently the auction was deleted, and the administrators of the website posted a statement saying, “We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving.” Read more about Time to Put the Gun Away? Thoughts on the Auction of George Zimmerman's Gun

Carnal Christians? Part 1

From In the Nick of Time, Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Read the series.

One of my former professors, Charles Hauser, has recently written in support of the “carnal Christian” view as a way of describing the reality of sin in the believer’s life (Part 1 and Part 2). In response, I offer this essay in respectful dissent and in support of the more historically grounded position that there is only a single category or class of Christians: the regenerate (or sanctified or spiritual or justified or any number of adjectives used to distinguish believers in Christ from non-believers).

Though not intended as a point-by-point response to Dr. Hauser’s essays, this two-part article will provide some historical context to the sanctification discussion before furnishing an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3, the favorite text of “carnal Christian” advocates. In regard to historical issues, it will first help the reader to learn the context out of which the “carnal Christian” doctrine has arisen. Second, I will address the historical connection between dispensationalism and particular models of sanctification, an issue raised by Dr. Hauser. Read more about Carnal Christians? Part 1

The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 2)

Read the series so far.

In Romans 12, Paul speaks of God’s expecation of surrender. That expectation of my surrender to God is based on two things: knowledge of His Person and acknowledgement of His work on my behalf.

In light of the incredible work of God in saving men that will believe, and in light of the astounding Mastery of God over all, He expects that I will surrender to His plan and not try to “write a better plan” for my life.

Look again at Romans 12:1 and read it carefully with me as I translate each word from the original language with some additional fullness:

Therefore: because of all that I have told you about God’s magnificent person and His wondrous saving work for you.

I urge you brethren, I come beside you, as a paraklete—“one brought alongside to brace.”. Don’t forget that he addressed them as brothers—a term Paul uses of other believers. The call to inspection will not work for someone who does not know Jesus personally already. Read more about The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 2)

The Origin Of Human Language

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 1

For decades, one of the sina qua non of dispensationalism has been the consistent use of a literal interpretation of the Bible.1 In fact, it proved to be the ultimate and most primitive of the irreducible minimum of dispensational tenets. Dr. Charles Ryrie said that one’s hermeneutical principles should be determined before one’s theology is formed.2 Earl Radmacher later forcefully contended that literal interpretation was the “basic principle” of dispensationalism.3 Read more about The Origin Of Human Language