Daily Archives: May 25, 2013

Spiritual Formation vs. Biblical Sanctifiction

Today we’re covering several interesting stories about Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Prayer. A little later on, a story from Chicago about the Moody Pastor’s Conference in which the ancient contemplative prayer practice of Lectio Divina is being taught. What is it, and why is it a dangerous spiritual practice?

We’re also going to discuss the difference between the whole Spiritual Formation/transformation movement that many mainline churches are embracing, verses biblical sanctification. You’ll want to read Spiritual Formation or Biblical Sanctification? over on the CRN blog.

In our first segment, we’re going to spend some time looking at the latest trends in public education with our guest, Kyle Olson. Kyle has his finger on the pulse of what’s coming down the pike, and his organization helps parents and teachers take a stand against some of the progressive mandates impacting our children. Kyle is the publisher and founder of EAGnews.org dedicated to education reform. Kyle is a contributor to TownHall.Com and has written a book titled, Indoctrination: How Useful Idiots Are Using Our Schools To Subvert American Exceptionalism.

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/spiritual-formation-vs-biblical-sanctifiction/

Questions about Theology: What is the Mosaic Covenant?

The Mosaic Covenant is a conditional covenant made between God and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19–24). It is sometimes called the Sinai Covenant but is more often referred to as the Mosaic Covenant since Moses was God’s chosen leader of Israel at that time. The pattern of the covenant is very similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign king (God) and his people or subjects (Israel). At the time of the covenant, God reminded the people of their obligation to be obedient to His law (Exodus 19:5), and the people agreed to the covenant when they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 19:8). This covenant would serve to set the nation of Israel apart from all other nations as God’s chosen people and was as equally binding as the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham because it is also a blood covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is a significant covenant in both God’s redemptive history and in the history of the nation of Israel through whom God would sovereignly chose to bless the world with both His written Word and the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

The Mosaic Covenant was centered around God’s giving His divine law to Moses on Mount Sinai. In understanding the different covenants in the Bible and their relationship with one another, it is important to understand that the Mosaic Covenant differs significantly from the Abrahamic Covenant and later biblical covenants because it is conditional in that the blessings that God promises are directly related to Israel’s obedience to the Mosaic Law. If Israel is obedient, then God will bless them, but if they disobey, then God will punish them. The blessings and curses that are associated with this conditional covenant are found in detail in Deuteronomy 28. The other covenants found in the Bible are unilateral covenants of promise, in which God binds Himself to do what He promised, regardless of what the recipients of the promises might do. On the other hand the Mosaic Covenant is a bilateral agreement, which specifies the obligations of both parties to the covenant.

The Mosaic Covenant is especially significant because in it God promises to make Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Israel was to be God’s light to the dark world around them. They were to be a separate and called-out nation so that everyone around them would know that they worshiped Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God. It is significant because it is here that Israel received the Mosaic Law that was to be a schoolmaster pointing the way towards the coming of Christ (Galatians 3:24–25). The Mosaic Law would reveal to people their sinfulness and their need for a Savior, and it is the Mosaic Law that Christ Himself said that He did not come to abolish but to fulfill. This is an important point because some people get confused by thinking that keeping the Law saved people in the Old Testament, but the Bible is clear that salvation has always been by faith alone, and the promise of salvation by faith that God had made to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant still remained in effect (Galatians 3:16–18).

Also, the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Covenant did not really take away sins (Hebrews 10:1–4); it simply foreshadowed the bearing of sin by Christ, the perfect high priest Who was also the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11–28). Therefore, the Mosaic Covenant itself, with all its detailed laws, could not save people. It is not that there was any problem with the Law itself, for the Law is perfect and was given by a holy God, but the Law had no power to give people new life, and the people were not able to obey the Law perfectly (Galatians 3:21).

The Mosaic Covenant is also referred to as the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 8:6, 13) and was replaced by the New Covenant in Christ (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; 8:13; 9:15; 12:24). The New Covenant in Christ is far better than the old Mosaic Covenant that it replaces because it fulfills the promises made in Jeremiah 31:31–34, as quoted in Hebrews 8.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: Are there any black people mentioned in the Bible?

The Bible does not specifically identify any person as being black-skinned. The Bible also does not specifically identify any person as being white-skinned. The vast majority of the Bible took place in the Middle East, in and around Israel. Neither “black” nor “white” people are common in these regions. The vast majority of the people in the Bible were “Semitic,” light to dark brown in complexion. Ultimately, it does not matter what skin color the people in the Bible were. Skin color is meaningless in the message of the Bible. We all need to take our eyes off of the skin and focus on the soul.

Some scholars guess that Moses’ wife Zipporah might have been black since she was a Cushite (Numbers 12:1). Cush is an ancient name for an area of Africa. Some propose that Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3) was black. Some believe that the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1) was black. The Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:37 may have been a black man. Ethiopians are mentioned around 40 times in the Bible, and the Prophet Jeremiah asked, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin …” (Jeremiah 13:23). The “Simeon called Niger” in Acts 13:1 may have been black.

The Bible, though, does not specifically say that any of these people were black. Most Bible teachers believe that black people are descendants of Noah’s son Ham (Genesis 10:6–20), but we cannot be sure since the Bible does not specifically say. Why aren’t there more black people in the Bible? The vast majority of events in the Bible took place in the land of Israel. Although black people were common in many regions nearby Israel, Israel has never been an area where many black people have settled.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Creation: Did God create other people in addition to Adam and Eve?

There is no indication anywhere in the Bible that God created any humans other than Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2 we read, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:4–8, 18, 21–22).

Notice that it says “there He placed the man whom He had formed.” Not the “men,” just the one “man.” And this man was alone (v. 18) so God made a woman out of his rib to be his companion. All other human beings have descended from these two original people. The two main reasons why this question usually comes up are: (1) Cain’s wife, and (2) the origin of the different races. If the only people on the earth were children of Adam and Eve, who did Cain marry and how did we get all the different races of people with their different skin colors from just two people? For answers to these issues, please read “Who was Cain’s wife?” and “What is the origin of the different races?”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Holy Spirit: How does God distribute spiritual gifts?

Romans 12:3–8 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 make it clear that each Christian is given spiritual gifts according to the Lord’s choice. Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:12). The exact timing of the giving of these gifts is not specifically mentioned. Most assume that spiritual gifts are given at the time of spiritual birth (the moment of salvation). However, there are some verses that may indicate God gives spiritual gifts later as well. Both 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 refer to a gift that Timothy had received at the time of his ordination “by prophecy.” This likely indicates that one of the elders at Timothy’s ordination spoke about a spiritual gift that Timothy would have to enable his future ministry.

We are also told in 1 Corinthians 12:28–31 and in 1 Corinthians 14:12–13 that it is God (not us) who chooses the gifts. These passages also indicate that not everyone will have a particular gift. Paul tells the Corinthian believers that if they are going to covet or long after spiritual gifts, they should strive after the more edifying gifts, such as prophesying (speaking forth the word of God for the building up of others). Now, why would Paul tell them to strongly desire the “greater” gifts if they already had been given all they would be given, and there was no further opportunity of gaining these greater gifts? It may lead one to believe that even as Solomon sought wisdom from God in order to be a good ruler over God’s people, so God will grant to us those gifts we need in order to be of greater benefit to His church.

Having said this, it still remains that these gifts are distributed according to God’s choosing, not our own. If every Corinthian strongly desired a particular gift, such as prophesying, God would not give everyone that gift simply because they strongly desired it. If He did, then who would serve in all of the other functions of the body of Christ?

There is one thing that is abundantly clear—God’s command is God’s enablement. If God commands us to do something (such as witness, love the unlovely, disciple the nations, etc.), He will enable us to do it. Some may not be as gifted at evangelism as others, but God commands all Christians to witness and disciple (Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 1:8). We are all called to evangelize whether or not we have the spiritual gift of evangelism. A determined Christian who strives to learn the Word and develop his teaching ability may become a better teacher than one who may have the spiritual gift of teaching, but who neglects the gift.

Are spiritual gifts given to us when we receive Christ, or are they cultivated through our walk with God? The answer is both. Normally, spiritual gifts are given at salvation, but also need to be cultivated through spiritual growth. Can a desire in your heart be pursued and developed into your spiritual gift? Can you seek after certain spiritual gifts? First Corinthians 12:31 seems to indicate that this is possible: “earnestly desire the best gifts.” You can seek a spiritual gift from God and be zealous after it by seeking to develop that area. At the same time, if it is not God’s will, you will not receive a certain spiritual gift no matter how strongly you seek after it. God is infinitely wise, and He knows through which gifts you will be most productive for His kingdom.

No matter how much we have been gifted with one gift or another, we are all called upon to develop a number of areas mentioned in the lists of spiritual gifts: to be hospitable, to show acts of mercy, to serve one another, to evangelize, etc. As we seek to serve God out of love for the purpose of building up others for His glory, He will bring glory to His name, grow His church, and reward us (1 Corinthians 3:5–8, 12:31–14:1). God promises that as we make Him our delight, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4–5). This would surely include preparing us to serve Him in a way that will bring us purpose and satisfaction.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Characters in the Bible: Why is it important to study the various characters in the Bible?

The Bible is filled with characters, literally and figuratively. Perhaps the best way to describe how the Bible portrays its characters is “human” because they are, in fact, human. The Bible is true and the people that inhabit its pages were real people with real problems, just like us. The Bible does not shy away from presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of those it portrays. This makes the characters in the Bible “practical” in the sense that we can relate to them and educational in the sense that we can learn from their successes and failures.

Adam and Eve were disobedient blame-shifters. Abraham was a liar. Jacob was a schemer. Joseph had somewhat of the “I’m better than you” attitude. Moses made excuses. Saul was jealous. David was an adulterer. Solomon was the smartest fool in the history of the world. Elijah seemed to be somewhat bi-polar. Peter definitely had “foot-in-mouth” disease. The list goes on and on. No matter your personality and struggles, there is someone in the Bible you can relate to and learn from.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Ultimately, that must be our goal when we study Bible characters. Where they were successful in following God, we are to emulate them. Where they failed, we are to avoid making the same mistakes. “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did … These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us … No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:6–13).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Christian Life: What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?

Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33). The verse’s meaning is as direct as it sounds. We are to seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world. Primarily it means we are to seek the salvation that is inherent in the kingdom of God because it is of greater value than all the world’s riches. Does this mean that we should neglect the reasonable and daily duties that help sustain our lives? Certainly not. But for the Christian, there should be a difference in attitude toward them. If we are taking care of God’s business as a priority—seeking His salvation, living in obedience to Him, and sharing the good news of the kingdom with others—then He will take care of our business as He promised—and if that’s the arrangement, where is worrying?

But how do we know if we’re truly seeking God’s kingdom first? There are questions we can ask ourselves. “Where do I primarily spend my energies? Is all my time and money spent on goods and activities that will certainly perish, or in the services of God—the results of which live on for eternity?” Believers who have learned to truly put God first may then rest in this holy dynamic, “… and all these things will be given to you as well.”

God has promised to provide for His own, supplying every need (Philippians 4:19), but His idea of what we need is often different from ours, and His timing will only occasionally meet our expectations. For example, we may see our need as riches or advancement, but perhaps God knows that what truly we need is a time of poverty, loss or solitude. When this happens, we are in good company. God loved both Job and Elijah, but He allowed Satan to absolutely pound Job (all under His watchful eye), and He let that evil woman, Jezebel, break the spirit of His own prophet Elijah (Job 1–2; 1 Kings 18–19). In both cases, God followed these trials with restoration and sustenance.

These “negative” aspects of the kingdom run counter to a heresy which is gaining ground around the world, the so-called “prosperity” gospel. A growing number of false teachers are gathering followers under the message “God wants you to be rich!” But that philosophy is not the counsel of the Bible—and it is certainly not the counsel of Matthew 6:33, which is not a formula for gaining wealth. It is a description of how God works. Jesus taught that our focus should be away from this world—its status and its lying allurements—and placed upon the things of God’s kingdom.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Liberals Are Now Shocked, Shocked at Obama’s Culture of Intimidation

Now that the Obama administration has conducted an unprecedented intrusion into newsgathering activities, it’s dawning on liberals–four years and four months into the Obama presidency–that something is slightly amiss.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/05/22/liberals-are-now-shocked-shocked-at-obamas-culture-of-intimidation-press-freedom/

Last century: Western nations lost an average 14 IQ points

Since 1889 to 2004, IQ declined 14.1 points among those from Western nations, researchers in Europe say. Michael A. Woodleya of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Jan te Nijenhuisc of the University of Amsterdam and Raegan Murphy of the University College Cork in Ireland conducted a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time — in indication of general intelligence. “We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations, using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence and are considered elementary measures of cognition.” The researchers used data of simple reaction time described in a meta-analysis of 14 age-matched studies from Western countries conducted from 1889 to 2004.

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2013/05/23/Last-century-Western-nations-lost-an-average-14-IQ-points/UPI-77081369362633/?spt=hs&or=hn

Moody’s Pastors’ Conference Teaching Lectio Divina This Week – And Seven Years of Warning by Lighthouse Trails Go Unheeded

On May 20-23, Moody Bible Institute held its annual Pastors’ Conference (this year called re|Focus). Keynote speakers included Alistair Begg, Voddie Bauchman, Michael Easley (former Moody Bible Institute president) and a number of other evangelical pastors and speakers. On Tuesday, during one of the breakout sessions, Peter Spychalla, Director of Prayer Ministries, East White Oak Bible Church in Illinois gave a teaching on the contemplative practice called lectio divina (see page 35 of brochure): The description for the lectio divina workshop reads:

Reading and Praying Scripture for Spiritual Transformation Revive your devotional life by learning to read and pray Scripture for spiritual transformation rather than reading merely for information. Learn how historic traditions and contemporary practice of lectio divina (spiritual reading of Scripture) can help you meditate on Scripture, pray Scripture, apply Scripture, and grow in life changing intimacy with God.

To understand what lectio divina is, read our article (which is also a booklet), “Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Should Christians Practice it?

While the news that Moody is promoting lectio divina is going to come as a shock to some, Lighthouse Trails wants to make one thing very clear: Moody Ministries, which includes Moody Bible Institute , Moody Publishing, Moody Radio, and Moody Conferences, has been going down the contemplative path for many years. In fact, this is not the first time Lighthouse Trails has written about Moody’s contemplative openness. We are also going to include The Moody Church in this article. While Moody Ministries and The Moody Church are under two separate corporations, they do share the same founder. Also The Moody Church’s senior pastor, Erwin Lutzer, is an author of Moody Publishers.

The History of Our Warnings to Moody … Read More Here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11691

Pope Francis Does Not Know God

Pope Francis I does not know God. Nor does he know the Gospel.

Those may seem like rather obvious statements to those who know and understand the false, heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the atrocities of the office of the papacy. There are others, though, who see the Pope ministering to the poor, talking about Jesus and extending so-called love to people of all beliefs. To those people these statements seem harsh, unfair and downright wrong. Yet they are true and there is a corresponding truth: Pope Francis I does not truly love people.

Read More Here . . . http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/05/pope-francis-does-not-know-god.html

Is Your Church a Kingdom Colony or a Country Club?

One of the oldest monasteries in the world is Saint Catherine’s. Built by Emperor Justinian to protect the monks in the region, St. Catherine’s sits at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. The walls are made of granite and are between 8 and 35 meters tall.

Up until last century, there was only one way into the monastery: a tiny door more than thirty feet above the ground. People entered the monastery through a system of pulleys and ropes. The monastery itself contains ancient icons and many treasures. But up until recently, it was largely inaccessible to the outside world.

Our churches naturally drift toward becoming like St. Catherine’s monastery: a fortified, doorless organization that focuses upon its own preservation rather than its specific mission.

Our hearts drift toward tribalism, the tendency to gather with people just like us and to reflect ourselves rather than the missionary heart of God. We’re always putting up mirrors around the light of the gospel when we should be putting up windows.

Kingdom Colony or Country Club

The church is intended to be a colony of heaven, living according to the gospel announcement. But too often we turn the kingdom colony into a country club. Our focus becomes the comfort and preservation of our tribe rather than the mission that accompanies the gospel announcement.

Battleship or Cruise Ship

I’ve heard it said that the people of God either have the mentality of a battleship or a cruise ship. Both may sail, but they have very different purposes. The battleship exists for others. It is on a rescue mission, set to penetrate the enemy’s territory and do battle for the commander. The cruise ship exists for the comfort of its passengers. Luxury and comfort are the core values, and everyone seeks to make the journey comfortable and memorable.

When we adopt a cruise ship mentality, the cross and resurrection of Christ will is reduced to a message of personal comfort. The core value of our worship services is to be memorable and entertaining. Our theological debates become about upholding doctrine for doctrine’s sake, rather than seeing theological reflection as an aid to fulfilling our mission. Instead of seeing our gatherings as a base from which individual Christians scatter into the world as salt and light, we wall ourselves off from the outside world and neglect the prophetic nature of our gospel announcement.

Missional or Tribal

Tullian Tchividjian explains the difference between a missional and a tribal people:

“The highest value of a community with a tribal mindset is self-preservation. A tribal community exists solely for itself, and those within it keep asking, “How can we protect ourselves from those who are different from us?

“A tribal mindset is marked by an unbalanced patriotism. It typically elevates personal and cultural preferences to absolute principles: If everybody were more like us, this world would be a better place.

“But in a missional minded community, the highest value isn’t self-preservation but self-sacrifice. A missional community exists not primarily for itself but for others. It’s a community that’s willing to be inconvenienced and discomforted, willing to expend itself for others on God’s behalf.”

http://www.christianity.com/blogs/trevin-wax/is-your-church-a-kingdom-colony-or-a-country-club.html

Doctrine of Salvation: The Gospel/General Call and Effective Calling

The Domain for Truth

Divine Calling

Please see the last post on the series, “Doctrine of Salvation,” Christ’s Atonement

Divine calling/Gospel call can be defined as the call that invites and draws the unsaved person to Christ for salvation.  The definition may not be straight forward, as it seems because there are particulars that needs to be considered.  For example, what are the different callings of God?   Is the Gospel message effective that people hear, read, and see, effective?  In order to tackle that, we need to understand that there is general call and irresistible/effectual call.  Is a calling necessary and can the calling be resisted? Next talking point will be the historical views.  But before we get into it, I will try to define and describe the terms that are critical to our understanding of Divine calling.

The first term to cover is effective/effectual calling.  Effective calling can be defined as the act of…

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