Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 4

(Read the series so far.)

So far I have tried to establish a base in biblical texts for my further inquiry into the rapture. Remember, I write as a non-too-dogmatic pre-tribber whose interest in these posts is to think through the various approaches.

Few Major Rapture Passages

All proponents of the rapture must acknowledge that there are very few direct references to the catching up of the saints. Without 1 Cor. 15 and Jn. 14, perhaps Matt. 24, but especially 1 Thess. 4, we would not be talking about it. Of these, only the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage can be deemed a direct statement about the “catching up” or “seizing out” of the saints in the end time. By a direct statement I mean a text which plainly and unequivocally puts across a doctrine. Examples of this in other areas include, Gen. 1:1 stating that God created all things, or Rom. 5:1 which says Christians are justified by faith. These are C1 statements in the Rules of Affinity. Well nigh all the major doctrines of Scripture can be ascertained and proposed via C1 passages.

What this means is that in addition to these texts, supporters of the viewpoints must marshal arguments from other statements of Scripture (hopefully direct statements) about related teachings. It is the proper inclusion and assimilation of these teachings which creates the differing schools of thought on our subject. Read more about Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 4

Book Review - Invitation to the Life of Jacob

Dr. Donald Sunukjian has had more influence in the area of expository preaching on the current generation of pastors than anyone except Haddon Robinson. I remember one of my seminary professors having us watch a video of Dr. Sunukjian doing a first person narrative sermon on Esther. It was my first introduction to that type of handling of Old Testament narrative, and I was hooked.

In a new series published by The Weaver Book Company called “Biblical Preaching for the Contemporary Church,” Sunukjian fills a gap in the world of pastoral resources. When doing sermon prep, I go to language helps and commentaries for the technical help I need. I can hit up my collection of preaching books for refreshers on exposition. But what about taking the principles of expository preaching and applying them to specific texts? This is what Sunukjian does, and he does it well. His stated purpose is to “offer models of the principles presented in the textbook (Invitation to Biblical Preaching).” Read more about Book Review - Invitation to the Life of Jacob

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving, Part 1

The Bible does not tell Christians to tithe. But it does tell us to give.

During my early years as a pastor, I taught that there is a principle and pattern of tithing (giving 1/10 of your income) in Scripture and that there is also a principle and pattern of giving offerings over and above the tithe. I taught this because it is what I learned from those who taught me. But as I learned the Scriptures through years of reading and studying, I became aware of facts that caused me to question my own thinking and teaching on this issue and to develop a new understanding of what God’s Word says about it.

One of these facts is that the most extensive New Testament passages on giving as a Christian are about helping other Christians in need, not supporting the work of the church. Most of the principles I had been teaching were from these passages (2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, for example). I realized that I was bypassing the primary application of these truths, which is helping people in need, in order to urge people to give to the church. The very first “offerings” in the newly-formed assembly of believers in Jerusalem were designated to help others in need (Acts 2:45)! Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving, Part 1

Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 3

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Adapted from Stephen Davey’s book In Pursuit of Prodigals. Kress Biblical Resources (The Woodlands, TX, 2010). Used by permission. Read Part 1 & Part 2.

When Is It Wrong to Judge?

1. It is wrong to judge someone before you know all the facts in the case.

The Apostle John wrote, “Our law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing” (John 7:51). In other words, the believer should never judge on a whim, an impression, a rumor. The facts are necessary, and the believer should be quick to hear and slow to speak.

2. It is wrong to judge when judging is based on a person’s convictions and/or preferences.

Romans 14 makes it clear that personal decisions can direct activities in areas where the Scriptures are silent. For instance, the Bible doesn’t specifically address credit cards, dating practices, plastic surgery, watching television, using electric guitars in church, ad infinitum. Read more about Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 3

Following in the Footsteps of faith: Learning to Actually Trust a Trustworthy God

Abraham, Sarah & Hagar. Unknown artist, 1897

(Read the series.)

Ever hear one of these guys on the radio (usually on ESPN Saturday mornings) giving you the betting lines on games and “guaranteeing” that his picks will make you money? I am not suggesting that anyone should gamble money on football games. But I want to point out the terminology.

It seems like everything today is a guarantee. “I guarantee it” is one of the most overused slogans in our country (I guarantee it!). But the question I always want to ask is, “What if you’re wrong?” Because they are—lots of times. Do they lose their job? Do they get a pay cut? Nope, they just start taping next week’s “guaranteed, locked-in, easy money” choices and the cycle starts all over again.

But God isn’t like that. We saw in Genesis 15 that Yahweh makes promises and He guarantees them with His very life (try that, prognosticators!). The only area of doubt when God makes a promise lies on our end—the end that is fallen, sinful, and prone to wander into bad thinking about just about everything. Read more about Following in the Footsteps of faith: Learning to Actually Trust a Trustworthy God

The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 1

The problem of evil presents a challenge for philosophers and theologians who hold to the existence of God. Simply stated, the problem includes three conditional premises and a concluding question: If God is all powerful, all knowing, and all beneficent, then how can evil exist? In order to resolve the problem that the concluding question implies, one of the three premises has to be denied or altered.

While I would suggest that the problem can only be resolved by understanding and defining the beneficence of God through the lens of His holiness (as emphasized in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4), the theology of divine openness, otherwise known as open theism, attempts to answer the question by denying the other two premises. Open theism is on the extreme end of the “free-will” spectrum as a philosophical attempt at resolving the problem. Read more about The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 1

Book Review – A Passion for the Fatherless

Image of A Passion for the Fatherless: Developing a God-Centered Ministry to Orphans
by Daniel Bennett
Kregel Ministry 2014
Paperback 240

While adoption has been going on for a long time it has enjoyed a recent spike in attention within Evangelical circles. The accompanying wave of recent books on adoption has been good for both to-be adoptive parents and families as well as the children whom they adopt. Parents can be better equipped and children can be better cared for with their varying needs.

In 2011 Daniel J. Bennett wrote A Passion for the Fatherless: Developing a God-Centered Ministry to Orphans. Now in its 2nd printing, the book seeks to provide a robust theology of adoption along with many practical applications, specifically as it pertains to families considering adoption and churches having adoption ministries. Bennett writes from the perspective and heart of a pastor and adoptive father. This enables him to write in such a way as to reach ministry leaders and adoptive families.

Being an adoptive father myself, I have read numerous books on adoption by both secular and Christian authors. While all of these books have their benefits, there are several reasons why A Passion for the Fatherless is the best book on adoption that I have read yet. Read more about Book Review – A Passion for the Fatherless

Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 2

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Adapted from Stephen Davey’s book In Pursuit of Prodigals. Kress Biblical Resources (The Woodlands, TX, 2010). Used by permission.

In the matter of church discipline, the Bible is clear that believers must judge themselves (See Part 1). When else is it right to judge?

2. It is right to judge someone who is openly living in sin.

The Apostle Paul instructed the church in Corinth:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you. You have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this. (1 Corinthians 5:1-3)

Paul clearly announced, “I have already judged him.” It is important to note that Paul called attention to this man’s sin (sexual immorality) in the presence of the congregation. Read more about Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 2