Theology Thursday - Dispensationalists 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).

Myron Houghton

“Those who believe that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone recognize that the role of the law is to show sinners that they are, in fact, sinful and that they need a Savior. Once the law has accomplished this purpose, it ceases to function as a part of salvation: ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes’ (Rom 10:4).

This use of the law in showing the lost their need of a Savior becomes a hermeneutical principle. Any passage that makes demands by causing the reader to be afraid of God, whether in the Old or New Testament, is to be considered law. By the same token, any passage that offers God’s free forgiveness apart from demands, whether in the Old or New Testament, is to be considered gospel.”1 Read more about Theology Thursday - Dispensationalists on the Law & the Christian

Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 2

Introduced by Pastor Ed Vasicek. Read Part 1.

In the first installment of our “Purpose and Principles of Highland Park Church” document, I explained how the elders (1996) unanimously embraced the views expressed in it, and that this document still represents my viewpoint.

When I tell folks, “I don’t want our church to be like other churches,” they almost always say, “I don’t either.” But we often mean different things by that statement. This document goes a long way toward explaining what I mean.

Last time, we saw that involving a lot of people in our gatherings (body life) was key to our view of a successful church. We look at edification as the template and rubric for our services. This is one of the major, intentional distinctives between our church and most others in our area. While many other churches are putting their “best” in the limelight, we want to develop our people via participation and body life (as we understand the Bible to mandate). We also want people to be attracted to HPC because they see God at work in our people (not just a few), and we want to showcase that reality as much as we can. Read more about Purpose & Principles of a Local Church, Part 2

True Confessions of a Homeschool Mom

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the number of articles and posts I’ve read where fellow mombloggers are confessing that their lives aren’t perfect. The buzz words today are “authenticity” and “transparency.” Whatever your vocation or message, it has become important to emphasize that you have many flaws and sometimes bad things happen in your life.

OK. So I recognize the need to know we aren’t alone, to gain encouragement from the idea that others have faced similar circumstances, to feel understood. But I thought it was a given that even if someone appears to be blissfully successful, they still have real life problems like the rest of us. I mean, haven’t you noticed how many Hollywood couples can’t seem to stay married (or faithful), for longer than 5 minutes?

Death, disease, betrayal, and fear are felt by everyone—just read the headlines while waiting in the checkout line at the store. Money, fame, and beauty don’t immunize you to sorrow or pain. Tragedy is not a respecter of persons. Read more about True Confessions of a Homeschool Mom

What Is a Christian?

There is no one definitive answer to the question, “What is a Christian”? That’s because there are many biblical texts that provide various answers, all of them true. While most believers tend to think in terms of one, simple, standardized definition of a Christian, God evidently wants us to think in a more comprehensive manner. It’s good for us to consider the many facets of the beautiful diamond of salvation, and one of the most thought-provoking answers may be found in the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John chapter seventeen.

Here, Christ prays first for Himself (vs. 1-5), secondly for His Apostles (vs. 6-10), and finally for all Christians to the end of time (vs. 20-26). The prayer of Christ for His Disciples beginning in John 17:6 is the focus of my thoughts. Although these words were spoken specifically in relation to the Apostles, careful reflection reveals that they apply equally to all born-again believers. So, in these words of Christ, what is a Christian? Read more about What Is a Christian?

Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 7: Becoming Debt-Free

Read the series so far.

Why are credit card fees and interest so high?

Credit operates using basically a two-tier system. Tier 1 consists of those who pay no fees or interest. Consumers who pay off their balances on-time monthly pay no fees or interest charges. Tier 2 consists of those who pay fees and interest due paying late, not paying the minimum payment or due to carrying a balance and being charged interest. Tier 2 credit card customers not only pay for their own credit card service, they also pay for the credit services of those in Tier 1.

Any customer may be a Tier 1 borrower. Falling into the Tier 2 category is the customer’s choice.

Another reason for high credit fees and interest is that there is expensive technology infrastructure in place to support the service. The infrastructure includes network expense and computer hardware and software expense. It also includes real-time processing with failover—the most expensive type of computer processing. Additional infrastructure expenses include fraud detection processing and the cost of plastic production and the associated mailing. Read more about Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 7: Becoming Debt-Free

Theology Thursday - A Presbyterian on Baptists

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).

“The author of Hebrews characterizes all of the ceremonial sprinklings of the Old Testament—the sprinkling of those who were ceremonially unclean with the blood of bulls and the ashes of a heifer (9:13), Moses’ sprinkling of the scroll and all the people with the blood of calves mixed with water and scarlet wool (9:19), and his sprinkling of the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies with blood (9:21)—as ‘baptisms,’ that is, as ‘ceremonial washings,’ (9:10). Moreover, the same writer immediately thereafter and Peter as well speak of Christians as being ‘sprinkled’ with Christ’s blood:

Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water (see Ezek 36:25).

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Jim Elliot Was Not the First to Say It

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

“He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

That quote is universally associated today with the name Jim Elliot, one of five American missionaries who were martyred in South America in the 1950s. He had indeed written them in his journal, and they convey a profound truth. But they did not originate with Elliot. Almost those precise words were spoken and written centuries earlier.

To find the original (or perhaps yet one more preacher who borrowed these words from someone else), we must go back almost 300 years, to the mid-1600s, to the life of Philip Henry (1631-1696), father of Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the famous Bible commentator. In Matthew Henry’s biographical account of his father’s life, he notes his father’s practice while pastor in Worthenbury, England (1658-1662) to set aside a tenth of his income for charitable purposes, notably the relief of the poor. Matthew then states regarding his father, Read more about Jim Elliot Was Not the First to Say It

Evangelism that works

Sweet Publishing (freebibleimages.org)

Many Christians are looking for a style of evangelism that works, which is to say one that produces visible, measurable results. Surely every Christian desires to see people turned from darkness to light, but most have learned that reported results and genuine conversions are not necessarily the same thing. Let’s take a look at one of the Apostle Paul’s evangelistic efforts recorded in the opening verses of Acts chapter seventeen. Here we find a biblical example of evangelism that works.

A Strategic Location

This endeavor took place in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica. The location was carefully chosen. After laboring fruitfully, and being expelled from the city of Philippi, Paul and his missionary team traveled west. They passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia without stopping because they had their sights on Thessalonica. Both of these cities were smaller and less significant than Thessalonica. Were there people in these locations who needed Christ? Yes, but Paul, a master strategist, had reasons to push on to Thessalonica because of its major importance. Read more about Evangelism that works