Following in the Footsteps of Faith: The Obedience & Proclamation of Faith

Read Part 1.

The God of the universe has told Abram to do the unusual. Leave everything. Leave country, home, family, culture. Pack it all up, leave, worship Me, and I will show you where I want you to go. How would you respond? What would you do? When God puts your faith into the tempest of trial and obedience, what emerges?

In Genesis 12:4 we read a very simple statement: “So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…” Obedience. Complete, total, no reservation, no guarantees, no back up plan (Abram is 75 years old—he doesn’t have time for a back-up plan). No, Abram simply packs up everything, brings his family and nephew with him, and starts in total obedience to God’s calling.

One day I want to ask Abram about that trip. I want to ask him about the faith that moved him to obey the call of God on his life. Until then I want to emulate this: total obedience rooted in total faith and reliance on God and His infallible Word. Three things I see here that are applicable to the lives of all believers: Read more about Following in the Footsteps of Faith: The Obedience & Proclamation of Faith

The Church and the College

From Voice, Nov/Dec 2014.

Leading a Christian college, university, graduate school, or seminary is a challenge in the varied uncertainties of our day. It is especially disheartening when academic publications use terms like “tsunami” and “danger” and “at risk” to describe the perilous nature of the traditional education landscape. One wonders how the smaller private Christian colleges will surf the coming tsunami and overcome the challenge.

This brief presentation is not meant to be a “how to” survival guide for the small college. Rather, it is a perspective on why ecclesiology matters in the overall mission and purpose of a Christian liberal arts college. In what follows I address the nature of the church, the mission and core values of the college, and then consider how ecclesiology informs college life and operations.

What I mean by the church

So what do I have in mind when I reference the Church? I am not writing about a particular denomination nor am I writing about a specific style of ministry. Rather, I am considering what the Bible reveals to us about the nature of the Church in both its universal and local significance. Read more about The Church and the College

Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (6)

Read the series so far.

The oath is the decisive ingredient in any covenant. We have already taken a look at the oath which the people took in answer to God’s Book of the Covenant in Exodus and have briefly examined the oaths of several of the other Divine covenants. We conclude that examination here.

C. Phinehas (“Priestly”)

Since I have treated this covenant elsewhere in some detail I shall just briefly rehearse the salient facts.

Owing to the zeal of Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, a devastating plague was stopped and God’s wrath appeased (Num. 25: ). Although Phinehas could have had no idea what God would do next, his honoring of God’s holiness elicited a quite un-looked-for covenant between God and Phinehas’s offspring (Num. 25:13; Psa. 106:28-31). This covenant stands behind the promise of ministering Levites in New covenant contexts as seen in Jeremiah 31:14; 33:17-18, 21-22; Ezekiel 44:15, and other places. Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (6)

Following in the Footsteps of Faith: A Study of Abraham

The Bible’s account of Abraham begins in Genesis chapter 12. However, before entering that text, we need to get our bearings. God has scattered the people from the Tower of Babel (chapter 11). As these clans and tribes spread out, they carry with them the paganism that finds its roots in their now famous building project. Oh, there are some exceptions (Job, Melchizedek to name a few), but by and large the nations are losing sight of the one true God.

Five generations pass, life spans shorten, and spiritual darkness is everywhere. But see, that is one of the amazing things about God. You and I (and all of our relatives both near and far) are fickle, unreliable, and prone to forget the One who gave us life. But God never breaks a promise, and His line will never fail. And so the promise made in Genesis 3:15 echoes through the centuries as God slowly works in human history to bring about His redemptive plan.

And as the curtain rises in Genesis 12, that redemptive plan zooms in on one man. But something is not right. We don’t find some oasis of redemptive truth, some bastion of Yahweh worship. Instead we go to Ur of the Chaldeans, into a pagan land full of pagan people. And God’s light shines on one particular man.

What does God want? What’s the requirement? Faithful obedience to the forsaking of all others. Read more about Following in the Footsteps of Faith: A Study of Abraham

Books of Note - How Can I Be Sure? (Questions Christians Ask)

Image of How can I be sure? (Questions Christians Ask)
by John Stevens
The Good Book Company 2014
Paperback 96

Doubt. For some it is the seedbed for growth and for others it is a miserable, dark and depressing pit. Everyone has doubts about things. For instance, I doubt I will ever climb Mount Everest, go to the moon or live to see the Detroit Lions have a winning season (sorry Lions fans). But while these are doubts that have little to no impact on my life, what about doubts that hit closer to home? What about doubts that strike at the heart of our personal beliefs which shape our decisions and everyday lives? What about doubts that center around our deepest held religious beliefs? What if I doubt the genuineness of my own faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior? Read more about Books of Note - How Can I Be Sure? (Questions Christians Ask)

Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Novatian's Reversal

(Read the series.)

What did Novatian really think about lapsed apostates? Could they ever be re-admitted to fellowship? Some irresponsible historians have painted a false picture in their writings. One of these men is G.H. Orchard, who wrote:

Novatian, with every considerate person, was disgusted with the hasty admission of such apostates to communion, and with the conduct of many pastors, who were more concerned about numbers than purity of communion.1

To Orchard, Novatian was a pious, principled Baptist—a man who exercised an influence of “an upright example, and moral suasion.”2 The fundamental question is this—is there any circumstance where an apostate may be re-admitted to fellowship in a local church? Is any amount of repentance sufficient? Or, are these believers cut off from fellowship, let alone membership, in a local church? Novatian believed the sin was unforgiveable. J.M. Cramp accurately summed up the issue:

Novatian held that apostacy was a sin which disqualified them from again entering into church fellowship, and to secure a pure community, he formed a separate church, which elected him for its pastor.3

Read more about Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Novatian's Reversal

Faithful in Much

(Originally posted at Sometimes a Light, June 6, 2014.)

Two years ago, our family moved back to the rolling hills of southwest Virginia. My husband had been raised here, and even though we had literally traveled the world, he never could quite escape them. I grew up 300 miles north but have found that there is something very familiar about this area. The small communities. The strong sense of place. And family roots that run as deep as the white oaks’. Still, I’ve had a lot to learn in the last two years, to learn the stories that make this place what it is. Most recently, I’ve been learning about the unique price that southwest Virginia paid during World War II. Read more about Faithful in Much

No Hell?

Satan’s encounter with Eve in the Garden is fascinating and very important for us to understand. His temptation of Eve, recorded in Genesis 3, represents several firsts:

It is the first instance of an epistemological alternative to God’s design. Satan offers to Eve a different way to have God-like knowledge. Satan argues that God is actually deceiving Eve into ignorance by keeping her from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s plan was both clear and appealing: Be like God by the assertion of your own will, and be free from God’s restrictive design. Declare your independence from God by doing it your own way—the result will be the same.

Satan’s temptation of Eve is also the first instance of a hermeneutic alternative to God’s design. Satan’s temptation of Eve was the first recorded instance of a non-literal interpretation of God’s word. Satan asks Eve, “Has God said … ” and then proceeds to distort what God had actually said (3:1). In contrast, Genesis 1-12 represents roughly 2,500 years of history, and during that time, of the roughly 31 references to God speaking, this is the only instance (besides Eve’s fumbling in response to Satan’s challenge) in which God’s word isn’t taken at face value. Read more about No Hell?