Shawn has a great book review here on “The Gospel Coalition’s website:
Much has happened over the last few months! This has been a time of great blessing for the three authors. Ken has been called into a ministry to those in the Navy. Shawn is now pursuing his doctorate in Louisville (Some fly-over state) . In November I was called to pastor a church plant in Las Vegas, Cornerstone Community Church. My transition is still underway, but the desire to get writing again prompts this action.
Shawn and I are currently thinking through a series on pastoral ministry. This issue is extremely prevalent in my mind right now as I transition from part-time to full time ministry. Already the desire and temptation to be stretched in 1,000 different directions is prevalent. Add all the chores involved with moving, and life is crazy. Life right now has three focuses (in no particular order): shepherd the family, shepherd the church, and get moved in. All three can easily be a full time job.
As we move forward with the church plant a few questions seem to come to mind. “Where do we begin?” “What should our focus be on?” “How do we grow?” “Where are you located?” “How can you build a ministry without a premier location?” Considering our (all three authors’) convictions are to minister according to His Word, the natural starting place for me is Scripture. Continue reading »
The intro to this series may be found here.
In a recent journal article, Kaiser explores whether the object of faith in the OT is the same as in the NT. This query is usually, as it is in Kaiser’s article, discussed along the lines of Dispensational Theology (DT) vs Covenant Theology (CT). There is not really any debate as to whether salvation is by grace through faith, but rather what the object of saving faith was in the OT. That Jesus is set forth as the object of saving faith in the NT is beyond dispute. However, Dispensationslists have often denied that Jesus is the object of saving faith in the OT. Instead, it is proffered that faith in God in general, and derivatively faith in whatever he promised at the time, is in fact the object of saving faith which OT saints possessed.
Kaiser cites Ryrie as representative of the common DT position, ”The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ; the requirement of salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age [however,] is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations.” Kaiser then cites the Westminster Confession (Chapter VII, section 3) as representative of the common CT position,
Man by his Fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.
In his article, Kaiser goes on to discuss the implications of some who have gone beyond Ryrie and adopt an inclusivist approach: whereby it is argued that anyone who comes to believe in monotheism is basically exercising the faith of Abraham and the rest of the OT saints. Our interest here, however, is the continuity/discontinuity contrast between CT and DT. It should be pointed out that Kaiser’s antithesis appears to only take into account classical and revised DT. A progressive dispensationalist position would not necessarily understand the content of faith as changing over the various dispensations. As such, Kaiser’s antithesis is a false one in terms of CT vs DT.
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Foundational to the United States is separation of church and state. The US Government is not to have a national religion. Today we treat the separation of church and state as two worlds sharing the same land. Many understand the concept to mean, “The church has no right to dictate morals to the government.” “The government is not to tell churches what to do, tax them, or favor them.” What has happened among the culture is both entities are considered two realms. Continue reading »
What Christian would deny the importance of church unity? “Church unity” probably conceived of as, “every believer under the authority of his or her local church united with others within the local congregation of believers united for a common purpose.” If you’re reading this, you probably agree your church needs to be united. Contesting unity seems sinful and immature. In fact, it seems plain silly. What organization (even non-christian) says, disunity helps fulfill the goal? What sports team pursue disunity between offense and defense? “Sorry, you’re the post. We guards will never try and work with you! Good luck with the other big man down at the goal! We’ll be playing our own game.” Continue reading »
I remember early in my walk struggling with the concept of Israel being the “chosen” nation. I remember thinking, “Wow, God chose Israel but left all of the other nations out in the cold? Why?” . . . Probably to judge us. Or maybe the church is the new name for Israel? Both of those seemed like potential answers.
As I studied more, I began to realize Scripture has too many references to the restoration of Israel to deem one answer true. Yet God changed His mind and opened the Gospel up to ALL the nations! Diving into the depth of the Prophets brought out the reality of Israel’s sin and the fact that not all Israel is Israel — meaning not all Israel is saved and the Israelites were in the same predicament as the nations! So I just dealt with it. Israel is God’s chosen nation who needs a Savior. Chosen for what? Why them? The second question is easier to answer: because God chose them! So I left my inquiry open thinking God held off from the nations during the OT, but now in the NT the mandate is clear.
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I believe in expository preaching. I believe it is the preacher’s job to open the Bible and explain the message of the text! The Word of God should be central in our worship! Nothing more true is said in worship than when Scripture is read to the congregation. Yet when the preacher has faithfully exposited the text–meaning he gets the authorial intent right and conveys it to the audience, then Yes! God’s Word is being conveyed to the people. The greatest Wesley hymn is still a human product. The Word of God is the message from the Lord meant to equip and prepare the believer for righteous deeds–conforming him or her into His image! (2 Tim 3:15-16). Continue reading »
Who saves people? Easy answer, God. How does God save people? The Spirit gives life! (2 Cor. 3:6) and He uses His word. “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18) and “you have been born again not of seed which is perishable bur imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). So, how does a person become a believer? By both the Spirit and the Word. So we sit back and let the Spirit work? Well, yes! But we have a role to play too.
Every so often when strolling through downtown Burbank or the Americana in Glendale, I receive a tract from some unknown person trying to spread the Gospel. Most tracts are designed to grab the reader’s attention quickly, tell the truth, and offer the person forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Most people think of evangelism as something done toward a person we do not know. Cold evangelism is fine and should be done, especially when done to win people not arguments, but it is not the primary way believers evangelize. A few weeks ago I proposed evangelism is primarily done in our daily life with people we interact with habitually.
But there is something missing with almost every tract and most “cold” presentations. The missing element is explainable considering the theology behind most who compile tracts. Some of these groups focus their attention on proving sinfulness, distilling the Gospel down to four points, and have not even considered they are missing something–the heart of the Great Commission! Continue reading »