Childish vs Sinful

“Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying we should excuse sin. When we see sin, we must talk about forgiveness and a Savior. I am all for disciplining a child when they sin. But I would love to ask the questions — and have you ask yourself — “is this truly sin?” or “is this child just thinking like a child?”

Check out this post. This is a good way of thinking about parenting: Childish vs Sinful at Faith Life Women.

Bite Sized Theology – Worldliness

Genesis 3:1-7 is a description of our fallenness. Our nothingness.

There are some things we need to recognize in what happens in this passage:
1) God’s Word was questioned – “Has God said,…”
2) God’s Word was twisted – “You will not surely die:”
3) Man was said to be lifted up to be like God – “you will be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
4) Adam and Eve exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served a created thing rather than their Creator (Romans 1:25)
5) They are now characterized by worldliness

Life on the outside (of the garden) is dominated by worldliness. So, the question is,

how do we define worldliness?

There are lots of definitions out there. What I want to do here is to give us a bottom line description of worldliness. And here it is –

Worldliness is performance based living

Within the Lord of the Rings, some of the most intriguing characters are the Ring Wraiths. These nine human kings, great kings of old they’re called, who were given rings from the Dark Lord Sauron. And when they were given these rings they were bewitched by Sauron, they were enslaved by Sauron, and they actually became less than human– in that now they were no longer visible to the human eye. They were kind of in between physical existence and this other world, and they were enslaved to do his will.

If you’ve seen the movies, they have these suped up monk robes, where the hood comes down and you can’t see the inside. They have these massive arm holes in the robes. And I remember asking the question, ‘why are they wearing these robes?’ Well, Tolkien actually tells us why they’re wearing these robes.

Listen to this, Tolkien writes,

“The black robes are real robes that the Wraiths wear to give shape to their nothingness.”

These fallen men have a profound sense of their fallenness. They have a profound sense of their nothingness. And they wear these robes, not because they like robes, but these robes are their way of covering that fallenness, of covering this profound sense of nothingness.

The story of the Ring Wraiths is really not a fictional story. Well it is a fictional story, but it’s not because it captures all of our experience this side of the Fall.

That we wear robes. We have a profound sense, we can’t articulate it and it takes years in your 20’s and 30’s and 40’s before we can really begin to get a sense of the depth, of our own fallenness. But we wear these robes to cover our fallenness.

We put on the robe of sex (pornography, wandering thought-life), we put on the robe of money (we never have enough for what we really want), we put on the robe of power, we put on the robe of vocational achievement, we put on the robe of educational achievement, we put on this robe and that robe and we’re wearing all these different robes in an attempt to cover our fallenness, in an attempt to cover our nothingness. But we do not only put on robes of sex, money and power, we also put on religious robes.

This is why James, for instance, talks about pure and undefiled religion, because we are a people, I am a person, who will put on religious activity: I will put on social concern, environmental involvement, animal rights, as a robe that is my attempt to cover my own sense of fallenness and brokenness.

THIS is worldliness.

Note: Doug Wilson wrote a good piece on Discerning Worldliness.

Definitions:
Worldliness is…

  1. Performance-Based Living
  2. Looking to lesser things as ultimate things
  3. Indulging in desires as if they are the ultimate fulfillment of life
  4. A disposition contrary to following God’s will
  5. Enmity with God
  6. Seeking God’s favor on our own
  7. Inordinate love of lesser goods
  8. Conditional identity
  9. Whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange. ~Kevin DeYoung in THE HOLE IN OUR HOLINESS

Quotes about Worldliness

Worldliness proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake. ~Iain Murray

Bite Sized Theology is a series which provides definitions and discussion of theological terms and concepts. It’s designed to help you think biblically.

Another Look at 1 Corinthians 15

In last week’s article in this Eschatology series, we linked to an article discussing 1 Corinthians 15 and the Rapture. Today, we look at a rebuttal of the Dispensational Premillennial Rapture.

If it weren’t for 2 Corinthians 15:50, I probably would have never begun to question premillennialism. I find in this verse an explicit denial of one of the essential tenets of all premillennial theories. Premillennialism must have people entering the future kingdom in their natural, unglorified bodies. This is due to the fact that a lot of people are said to rebel against God and Christ at the end of the millennium (Rev 20:7-10).

But where do these folk come from if premillennialism is true? The only explanation is that these rebels are the children of those who originally entered Christ’s millennial kingdom. Since, however, people who experience resurrection cannot procreate (Luke 20:34-35), then there must be saints who somehow enter the kingdom without having experienced glorification. Everyone agrees that,

If there are no people who enter the premillennium unglorified, then premillennialism is untenable and simply cannot be correct

Well, I find clear and irrefutable evidence that such is the teaching of 1 Corinthians 15:50, “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” All commentators are agreed that Paul is speaking here of glorification, the transformation of one’s physical body into a body like Christ’s. The only real point of contention is, what exactly does Paul mean when he refers to “the kingdom of God”?

The context makes it clear that the “kingdom” in view is the one which is established directly after Christ’s return. Paul amplifies verse 50 by saying: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (vs. 51-53).

I find it curious that most people start quoting these verses as if Paul’s logic begins in verse 51

But it is clear that verses 51 through 53 do not form a complete thought in themselves. Instead, they serve to explain why “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (v. 50). As such, the “kingdom” which is in view is the rule and reign of Christ directly after He returns to earth. If so, then premillennialism is ruled out as an option.

The only way out of this is for premillennialists to claim that verse 50 refers to the New Heavens and New Earth. This is a strange maneuver because in verses 42 to 49 Paul discusses the resurrection of the righteous dead. And he does so again in verses 51 to 57. Thus, these verses refer to events that occur in connection with the return of Christ.

Are we really to believe that verse 50 stands alone in its context, so that it looks 1000 years beyond the events of its surrounding discussion?

This strains the principles of interpretation too much. It is much more natural to believe that verse 50 is intimately connected to the verses that precede and follow it. The only reason why we would believe that its claims are out of place is if our system doesn’t let it stand in its context. Here is clear example of where premillennialists are doing what they accuse amills and postmills of:

Letting a system interpret the Scripture instead of the Scripture interpreting the system

Charles Hodge comments on this verse:

“The common millenarian [i.e. premillennial] doctrine is, that there is to be a literal resurrection when Christ shall come to reign in person upon the earth, a thousand years before the end of the world, and that the risen saints are to dwell here and share with Christ in the glories of his reign. But this seems to be inconsistent with what is taught in I Corinthians xv. 50. … It is here expressly asserted that our bodies as now constituted are not adapted to the state of things which shall exist when the kingdom of God is inaugurated. We must all be changed. From this it follows that the spiritual body is not adapted to our present mode of existence; that is, it is not suited or designed for an earthly kingdom” (Systematic Theology, Vol III, 843).

The Testimony Of Supermodel Kathy Ireland

Supermodel Kathy Ireland uses Science and Reason to tell Mike Huckabee why she became pro-life.

“She does talk about being a Christian but makes her point using science not blind faith as a basis. She correctly tackles the fundamental questions: What is the issue? What is the unborn? and What is the value of human life? After all you can’t have a position that is either pro-life or pro-choice unless you can answer the question – What is the unborn? If it were not a life then you would not have to abort it. If the unborn is not a human being then no justification is necessary. If it is a human being then no justification is adequate. There is after all no difference on your DNA when you are an adult, child or just a few cells not yet fully developed but still fully human in nature. Body size does not determine value. The former Presidential candidate Huckabee learned something and maybe you will as well.”

Our High View of Scripture is Not High Enough

The modern Evangelical (and Fundamentalist) has a high view of Scripture, but the height to which Scripture is held is not high enough.

The typical view reduces Scripture to a set of impersonal precepts and extrapolated axioms and principles which establishes a self-help guide for our daily lives (i.e. the Bible becomes an answer book ala Reader’s Digest, a dictionary/thesaurus/encyclopedia or how-to book).

This hermeneutic results from a defective view of inspiration / bibliology / doctrine of Scripture that is built upon a rationalistic edifice that reduces and depersonalizes revelation to propositions instead of the person, Jesus.

It reduces Scripture to principles we can master rather than Jesus mastered these for us.

Bobby Grow explains,

“However, a Christ centered exposition should methodologically lead us to Christ. The guiding supposition is one that Jesus held; i.e. that Scripture is all about him (John 5:39). So Scriptural exposition then should reflect this by being an invitation into a participatory relationship with God in Christ. Or, it should result in doxology wherein we look from ourselves to our lives in Christ.”

He continues by saying we need to,

“[R]e-orientate oneself in a way that sees Scripture within the personal triune speech act of God to us, given to us through his Son, in and through the creative activity of the Holy Spirit. This way Scripture is no longer understood as a proposition book which humanity can master; but instead, Scripture is understood as the God ordained place wherein God in Christ by the Spirit contradicts and confronts our “human mastery” through direct encounter with him, in Christ (wherein Scripture finds its Spirit breathed voice through the resurrected humanity of Jesus Christ). This will set up a hermeneutical framework that methodologically seeks to lay bare the inner reality of Scripture, which finds its ground in Jesus Christ himself (in principle, quite intensively!). So the exegete and expositor won’t be seeking to figure out how a particular text (like in the OT for example) is “relevant” or answers people’s particular questions today. Instead, the exegete will trust that God alone knows all of our hearts, and his answer to our deepest longing is personal encounter with Him. That is what Scripture is for; to lead us to him in Christ.”

Well, let me point you to the main post from which I’ve essentially copied and pasted here. Check out: Christ Centered Exposition Juxtaposed with Principle-Application Centered Exposition: My Response to my Pastor by Bobby Grow.

Journey in Grace: An Interview with Wendy Alsup

This interview was done in 2007. This is a repost of the exchange.

I want to thank Wendy Alsup for her time and thoughtful answers to my questions. Wendy is a member of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. I believe this Q&A will be a blessing to you as it is to me.

Q1: What are some challenges you face ministering in Seattle, Washington? Compared to South Carolina?

A1: Well, some might call it a challenge. I call it refreshing. But growing up in SC, everybody claimed to be a Christian but nobody acted like one (I generalize of course). The Apostle Paul uses a child’s expected growth as an illustration. When a baby drools, it’s an expected result of their stage of growth. When an adult drools, we know it represents some type of disability. That adult isn’t functioning as expected for its years of life. Growing up in the Bible belt, I knew a bunch of Christians who had been believers (in theory) for many years but still acted like toddler Christians. I admit that I have lost my patience with believers who should have long since learned better. It was God’s wise hand that moved us to Seattle at the time He did. Here, people either are or are not Christians, and their lives pretty consistently testify to the truth of their claim. There are many hostile unbelievers here. Our papers, politicians, and cultural figures tend to be much more frank in their opposition to Biblical truth. On the flip side, most of the new Christians in our church are blissfully ignorant of the concept of a lukewarm believer. When they came to Christ, it radically changed their lives. Christianity here isn’t a culture–it’s a radical change of life based on a completely new identity in Jesus Christ. There are still plenty of immature believers, but as they grow older in the faith, godly maturity follows.

Q2: What advice do you have for other women who are also trying to juggle ministry in marriage, family, and church?

A2: You need to have your priorities in a godly order. I used to drive to church praying that God would bless my ministry to women there. Then one day I was convicted that I never prayed the same as I was driving back toward home afterwards. Ministry at church had become exciting and fulfilling, and I rightly wanted to be a good steward of those opportunities. However, I have an even clearer calling to ministry in my home. It’s less glamorous, so I have to constantly fight to keep my husband and boys my first priority. I’ve learned to give my husband first right of refusal when a new opportunity arises for ministry at church. I’m also learning to not make him feel guilty if he doesn’t want me to take on a ministry opportunity that excites me. He knows better than anyone the stresses I am currently facing and has a good perspective of which opportunities would end up being a distraction from my true calling. Generally speaking, it is much better to do a few things well than a lot of things halfway.

Q3a: What has your church done to prepare you for “Deacon in Charge of Women’s Theology and Training”?

A3a: Honestly, I became a deacon before we had a streamlined training process. Back then, training consisted of extended conversations over coffee with whichever leader was available at the moment. We have a more formal process for deacon training in place now, which includes reading books, answering discussion questions, writing out statements of doctrinal belief, and apprenticing with a current deacon or elder.

Q3b: What responsibilities does “Deacon in Charge of Women’s Theology and Training” entail?

A3b: The analogy I use to illustrate the ministry at our church is that we are building the plane while it’s flying. With that said, it’s highly probably my responsibilities will change between the time I send this to you and you actually publish it. But right now, I help organize women’s teaching events, both our small weekly Capstone training and our quarterly large group events.

Q4: I know Elisabeth Elliot is one of your female heroes of the faith. Who else has influenced you? Why?

A4: I did a lot of Bible reading on my own growing up. At some point, I read the greatest command and took it to my pastor (I was probably around 18 at the time). I was curious why I had never heard a sermon in my fundamentalist church on the command to love–after all, it was the GREATEST command and therefore one would think it should be covered at some point. My pastor answered that I was reading neo-evangelical stuff and that they had an overemphasis on love and therefore our church didn’t like to talk about it. That seemed really odd to me, but that pastor and his cohorts were the only spiritual authorities I knew at the time. Then a few years later, someone gave me Desiring God by John Piper. It was the first confirmation I got that what I was seeing in Scripture in the Greatest Command wasn’t some evangelical compromise but the heart of the gospel itself. So I have great appreciation for John Piper–he gave me confidence that I was reading Scripture correctly. And I of course love Spurgeon, Luther, and Pascal.

Q5: Was there a single point in time or series of points in which you began to understand the Gospel is for all of life AND for the believer, not just for the unsaved?

A5: It’s been ongoing. I would have said quite boldly that I understood it years ago. Then last month I reread Ephesians and was hit with it again in even deeper ways. I think it’s something we get layer by layer, slowly with meditation and experience over time. I’m burdened anew that women need to really get this. We are the worst at comparing ourselves to each other. We feel shame if we don’t measure up and pride if we do. We compare ourselves on looks, husbands, education, career paths, children, cooking expertise, Martha Stewart decorating abilities, and so forth. And that path is SLAVERY. But when we find our identity in Christ and our self-esteem at the foot of the cross, we can start walking the path of freedom from both the shame and pride of comparison living.

Q5a: You said, “when we find our identity in Christ and our self-esteem at the foot of the cross, we can start walking the path of freedom from both the shame and pride of comparison living. ” Do you have any advice for women (and men!) on how to combat comparison with the Gospel?

A5a: For me, it started by getting a grasp on the idea that the gospel was something I needed to meditate on and apply to my life DAILY for the rest of my life. The only advice I can give to someone is to meditate on Scripture. John 15 was key for me (I am the Vine, you are the branches … Apart from me you can do nothing). It was life-changing when that last phrase finally settled into my psyche–apart from Jesus I can do NOTHING. Understanding the implications of Christ being the vine and I the branch and of Christ being the Head and I part of His Body were key. Meditating on Ephesians has also been life-changing. The phrase “in Christ” dominates chapter 1. And everything else in the book, including the call to Christian unity and principles for marriage and family life all flow from this first chapter.

I was taught to read the Bible as a young person, but I read it much like the Pharisees (John 5:38-39). I missed how all of Scripture testifies of Jesus. I’m learning to seek the Word whenever I read the Word. I love Luke 24:25, “…then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Him (Jesus) in all the Scriptures.”

When I don’t get the Word and my identity in Him, I inevitably look to find my identity in whatever else I can. For me, it was boyfriends and popularity as a teenager and young single adult. Did people notice how I dressed? What about my hair? After marriage, it started to be how well I kept my home. The worst for me was realizing that when I signed up to take a meal to a sick church member, I decided what to take based on what made me look like the best cook. And it’s opposite reflects the same wrong thinking–I felt condemned by Satan after the birth of my 2nd son when all my friends brought over GREAT meals that I could never replicate myself. Why did that matter? Why was I comparing myself to them and either finding status or self-condemnation by how well I measured up? It’s ridiculous, but when I’m not meditating on my identity in Christ, I can follow that line of comparison thinking on a 1000 different issues. I’ve noticed that if I don’t deal with how I think about myself in relationship to Jesus, I just keep going from thing to thing to thing to bring me comfort, find status, and generally make me feel good about myself.

Q6: In what ways does Andy minister at your church? Do you have a ministry in which you participate together?

A6: We participate in all our ministries together, whether our names are both listed or not. Andy is a private person, and most of his service in the church is never seen by the masses (though many benefit in my humble opinion). He takes seriously his ministry to the boys and me and is a constant source of wisdom and discernment to me in my public ministry at church.

Evaluating the Rapture: A Look at 1 Corinthians 15

Ken Stiles over at Shepherd The Sheep ~ Three men who love Jesus and His church wrote a very good article providing evidence for the Rapture.

Ken writes,

“In today’s post, we look at another passage that does not teach a pre-trib rapture per se: 1 Corinthians 15. It is worth pointing out that 1 Corinthians 15 is also urged by some to completely rule out premillennialism. …

…Paul’s discussion of the rapture begins in verse 50. After arguing that the Father is excepted from Jesus subduing all other power and authority, and demonstrating the absurdity of certain rituals if the dead are in fact not raised, and exposing the foolishness of incredulity concerning what kind of body people will have in the resurrection; Paul tells the Corinthians that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom. Some have urged this fact against certain premillennial positions because said positions allow that some non-glorified (i.e., flesh and blood) people who survive the tribulation would enter into the millennial kingdom. In response it may be noted that Paul has already discussed the kingdom up through Jesus turning it over to the Father. This would be the eternal state phase of the kingdom then that Paul is speaking of, not the millennial phase of the kingdom, when he says that flesh and blood cannot inherit it. There will be no non-glorified people in the eternal state.”

Check out the whole article: Part V: Evaluating the Rapture.