Doctrine Worth Fighting For

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Used by permission.

A few years ago I read this headline in my local newspaper. As a pastor, it grabbed my attention immediately. It said: Instruments Stolen From Five Manhattan Beach Churches. It told the story of how five local churches had been robbed in the period of one week. They took guitars, keyboards, ukuleles, drums, a tambourine, a mixing machine, audio and video equipment, projectors, laptop computers, microphones and speakers. They cleaned out those churches. The worst part is that it seems that the thieves got access to the church through unlocked windows and doors. They just walked right in!

I would like to suggest to you that as sad as it is that a church was robbed partially due to its own negligence, there is a greater danger that is facing the church—the danger of giving up the foundational doctrines that undergird our faith. And much like the robberies in those churches, the Church and each of us as members of the body of Christ are too often leaving theological and doctrinal windows and doors open allowing the thieves in. Read more about Doctrine Worth Fighting For

Book Review - Workbook in Romans

The Weaver Book Company (weaverbookcompany.com), who I have only recently become familiar with, has launched a new series of workbooks designed to help Christians better understand the flow of New Testament books. The purpose of the series is to “draw out the back story that lies behind the writings of the Bible” (p. 9). The first workbook in the series focuses on the text of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The author’s specific intent is to “draw out the main ideas in Paul’s storyline by observing what he actually said in his letter to the Romans” (p. 11). The intended audience of the book is study groups of Christians in any form (Sunday School class, small group, person study, etc).

The workbook begins with the reader doing an overview of the entire book of Romans. The reader is expected to read each section of Romans (the workbook divides the letter into 24 sections) and give in a sentence or two the main ideas that Paul was communicating. The lion’s share of the workbook is then divided into the following sections: Read more about Book Review - Workbook in Romans

Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 2

The Main Verses

In this installment all I want to do is to set down the main verses which are used in discussions about the rapture. Let me make it clear that this is not to say that many other passages must be considered so as to understand the doctrine. As I will be at pains to show, the rapture is not a teaching that can be established by simply comparing proof-texts. The doctrine excites many passions and this can lead to wishful thinking in exegesis. Some of the verses listed below are brought very hardly and reluctantly to bear on the doctrine we are considering.

We have already taken a quick look at 1 Thessalonians 4:17, but there are other salient passages. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 is often brought in to help. Then Jesus’s words in John 14:1-3 must be considered. Also joining the fray are 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 13, Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9, and Revelation 3:10. Let’s try to situate each one of these. Read more about Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 2

Are Erring and Rogue Cops “Ministers To You for Good”?

I just finished reading Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum. The cruelty that human beings can inflict on one another is staggering. KGB agents in the USSR enforced laws against anyone disagreeing with the Soviet government. They stormed into homes in the middle of the night, dragged one or more family members away to interrogate them, subjected them to a charade trial, and shipped them like cattle in freezing train cars to toil in labor camps in sub-human conditions. Many of the prisoners died, while some lived through the ordeal. Millions, yes millions, of people were subjected to this treatment. The KGB agents represented the government. Were they “ministers for good?”

What I am referring to is the section of the Apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome where he instructed them about their attitude toward members of the civil government. Here is what Paul said (emphasis mine): Read more about Are Erring and Rogue Cops “Ministers To You for Good”?

One Isaiah

(About this series)

CHAPTER V  ONE  ISAIAH

BY PROFESSOR GEORGE L. ROBINSON, D. D., MCCORMICK THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

“For about twenty-five centuries no one dreamt of doubting that Isaiah the son of Amoz was the author of every part of the book that goes under his name; and those who still maintain the unity of authorship are accustomed to point, with satisfaction, to the unanimity of the Christian Church on the matter, till a few German scholars arose, about a century ago, and called in question the unity of this book.” Thus wrote the late Dr. A. B. Davidson, Professor of Hebrew in New College, Edinburgh, (Old Testament Prophecy, p. 244, 1903). Read more about One Isaiah

Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 1

I had been intending to write about the removal of the Church (the rapture) for quite a while now. What galvanized me to do so now was a couple of entries by Ben Witherington and Roger Olson about the pretribulational rapture. These men, (like them or not), do not usually write poorly, but their articles attacking the concept of the pretribulational rapture are pretty lame ducks, rehashing the same old populist presentations of Dispensationalism by sniping at Clarence Larkin’s charts, and bringing into the frame the names of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, only to mock them.

Now let me be clear about this, although I am a pretribultionist, I am not about to contend for the parity of the doctrine of the rapture and its timing with the doctrine of the Trinity, or justification by grace through faith. I will not die on a hill fighting for the timing of the rapture, be it pre-, mid-, prewrath-, or post-tribulational. Read more about Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 1

Does the “Meet & Greet” Belong in Our Worship Services?

Apparently some are all “shook up” over the practice of greeting visitors during worship services. A variety of polls suggests that most visitors are extremely uncomfortable with this practice. Studies also suggest that many faithful church attendees are also uncomfortable with the practice of greeting the familiar, as well as those who may be new, in the ebb and flow of a church service.

Granted, there is clearly no Scriptural command to include a one minute and twenty-seven second opportunity in the worship service for greeting those you know or don’t know. There are a few passages though that speak to a practice of greeting one another with the “right hand of fellowship” (Galatians 2:9) and in other cases an “agape kiss” (1 Peter 5:14). However, these passages seem to simply report what was done and are not included to give a clear imperative for universal and normative church practice (though it’s enough to convince me of the benefit). Read more about Does the “Meet & Greet” Belong in Our Worship Services?

Defending the Faith - The Problem of Human Nature

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Used by permission. (Read Part 1.)

Believers best defend the faith by turning the Bible loose through careful, accurate and patient teaching. Ultimately this becomes an issue of biblical anthropology: how do you view man? Is he able to fully comprehend and judge facts as if The Fall (Genesis 3) had no affect upon him?

Biblical view of man

Here’s what I mean. God created everything in the universe and His imprint is seen everywhere in creation because everything came from His hand. But Romans 1:18-23 teaches that man’s problem is not a lack of evidence.

Man’s problem instead is the cognitive, moral deficiency to correctly interpret what he sees. Romans 1:18-23 says that man suppresses the truth displayed in creation/natural revelation and he rejects its message of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20) so that all men “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Unbelieving humans reject what creation reveals to them. Read more about Defending the Faith - The Problem of Human Nature