Free Will Synergism vs. Free Grace Monergism

I originally posted this link back in February 2011.  In light of the recent debate about soteriology in the SBC I thought I would repost it today.

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Here is a link to a nice short summary of the difference between the synergistic view and the monergistic view of salvation.  Scripture references are included.  If you are unfamiliar with the difference between the two take five minutes and read this and you will have a better understanding when done.  It is my hope that it may even inspire you to do some more research into the subject.

Combating Theological Indifference

I remember one particular Sunday morning at a church I no longer attend.  I was asked to fill in as the teacher in a senior adult class whose teacher was not able to be there that day.  There was 12-15 people in the class and I knew them all.  Most had been faithful member of the church for many years (some as long as 30 or 40 years).  I don’t remember what the text was that day but I do remember that the subject of the passage was spiritual gifts.  About 1/2 through the lesson I noticed that the people seemed lost.  When that happens the cause is usually either that I have done a very poor job of teaching that day or it was a topic the people were not familiar with.  At one point I stopped the lesson and asked how many of them had heard of spiritual gifts or knew what they were.  The answer:  blank stares.  The response still stuns me.  I don’t say that to disparage or condemn anyone present in the class that day.  It is however an indictment of the church (in general).  Many churches are guilty of not teaching theology or worse, teaching that theology doesn’t matter.  My point here is not limited to the topic of spiritual gifts.  I think there are many theological topics which would have elicited the same response by a large portion of the church going population.  It was an indication of the theological indifference we see among believers today.

This theological indifference is a result of many complex issues all working together.  My purpose today is to offer one suggestion that will help to alleviate this problem.  My suggestion is not a quick fix or an immediate answer.  It is however very likely to work…given enough time.  So what is my suggestion?  I suggest that churches begin to teach systematic theology, in age appropriate ways, to children at the earliest possible opportunity.  There are curriculums available to help with this or the church can develop its own way of doing it.  How (method, material) it is done is less important than why it is done.  The purpose of teaching theology to kids is 1) to glorify God, 2) help them to develop a biblical worldview, and 3) help God be real to them as they learn more about Him.  A side benefit to this is that as the kids learn theology so will the adults.

So, basically I am saying that the children are our future (I could not resist that) and we should follow the biblical teaching to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  I have not suggested anything new or profound here.  I am only getting back to the biblical model.  Do you agree of disagree?  Have I left something out that you think should be added?  Leave a comment and we will discuss it.

 

 

What will be said about you at your funeral?

Last night my wife and I had the privilege of attending the funeral of a dear lady we had known for nearly 20 years.  We had not seen her in several years though.  I must admit that I don’t like funerals.  I go because it is the proper thing to do but I just like to.  I am sure I am not alone in that way.  Having said that, last nights funeral was different.  My wife and I agreed afterwards that it was probably the best funeral we had ever attended.  We spoke to others who shared our opinion on the matter.  So, what was different about this funeral?  Good question.   Nothing about the service itself stood out as noteworthy.  The funeral home did a fine job directing the event but there was nothing out of the ordinary.  The music was good but it also was nothing that isn’t usually heard at funerals.  The pastor preached a very nice sermon.  The content was biblical based and he spoke from the heart but it was not his ability to speak or the content of his message that stood out.  In the end, what really made this service different was life of the person we were there to pay our final respects to.  She lived a life in which God was glorified.  She was not a great missionary to some foreign country or someone others would consider important to the community (in a leadership capacity).  She was a woman who lived out what the bible teaches us and people recognized that about her.  The pastor shared with us how she showed her love to others in prayer and concern for them and how she was an example of a persistent woman like the woman wanting justice from the corrupt judge.  In effect, she preached her own funeral by the way she lived her life.  What a testimony she has left for those who knew her.

In pondering all of this last night a question occurred to me.  What will be said about me at my funeral?  Have you considered what will be said about you at your funeral?  Most of us, me included, don’t like to consider such things because we don’t really want to think about the fact that we will all die one day.  But think about it for a moment.  What will others say about you?  What testimony will we leave behind?  Now, I am not suggesting that our motive for living a certain way should be so that nice things are said about us when we are gone.  No, I am saying that we should live out what we believe God has taught us in his word so that when we die our loved ones will have the peace of mind of knowing that we are in Heaven and that God was glorified through the life we lived.  Think on this question today.  Are there changes we need to make to our lives?  If so, today is the day to start.  Eternity will be here before we know it and it will be too late then.  Glorify God and he will take of the rest.  He has promised us that he would.  Now, believe it and live each day accordingly.

Theological Indifference

The tragedy is that our eternal welfare depends upon our hearing and we have trained our ears not to hear. — A.W. Tozer

As I look at the Church (the universal church) these days I am struck by the fact that so many believers are indifferent when it comes to theology.  Theology in general is not considered to be important to living daily as believers.  There seem to be whole movements founded on the fact that doctrine is less important (or not important at all) than “living out the gospel”.  The seeker sensitive movement in particular is inundated with the “social gospel” and post-modern humanism which teaches people that anything that divides (doctrine & theology) is to be avoided for the sake of maintaining community unity.

As the Tozer quote alludes to, we have a whole generation of believers that have been trained not to hear certain things.  The consequence is that we have a whole generation of believers that don’t know what they believe and why they believe it.  They have been trained to think that this does not matter, that living out the gospel in community is what really matters.  Living out our faith does matter but it should be a result of our understanding of what our faith teaches us and not what we trust for our salvation.

So, what can we do to remedy this situation.  The answer is not difficult to identify but it might be difficult to implement.  Theology needs to be taught starting at the earliest age possible in our churches.  We need to add an apologetics component as well as a church history aspect.  Over time the problem will be beaten as people are taught and embrace the importance of theology in understanding and living out our faith.

Do you agree?  Are there other steps you would recommend?  Do you believe this is not really a problem?  Leave a comment and tell me, and others, what your thoughts are on this.

A Great Theological Primer

Cover of "Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What ...

Cover via Amazon

I really enjoyed reading Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris.  Harris has written a serious theology book in a way that new or your Christians can understand.  He deals with doctrines such as God, Scripture, Jesus, the Cross, salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, and the Church.

For each doctrine, Harris introduces the basics of it and then he gives examples from his life that illustrate the importance of the doctrine.  Harris does not shy away from the theological terms.  He defines them and them describes then in ways that are practical and memorable.  This method makes the teachings he gives more enjoyable to read.  Often, I think those reading the book would not realize they are being taught.

I think this book would be an excellent primer for a youth group or a new believers class.  The book includes a discussion guide for this very purpose.  I am considering having my daughters to read this book or to read it with them.  I can highly recommend this book to you.  Reading it will be time well spent.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

A Review of Radical Together by David Platt

Radical Together by David Platt is a continuation of Platt’s previous book Radical.  Radical focused on personal transformation while Radical Together seems to focus on corporate change of a local congregation.  Overall, I think this is a good read and I can recommend it to everyone without reservation.  The church needs to refocused from time to time and this book will help to do that.

The book is well written and effectively communicates Platt’s vision for his church and for all Christian churches to be radically shifted to a foreign missions focus.  I agree with Platt in that foreign missions are important but I don’t know if I would go as far as he suggests.  Certainly, when God calls his people to a task they should whole-heartedly obey but I am not sure that every Christian is called to be this “radical”.  Platt does say that this transformation should not be at the expense of other functions and ministries of the church locally but in my opinion the tone of his book does not seem to back up this statement.  It may be that I am reading it incorrectly.

Radical Together will serve the purpose of bringing foreign missions back into the focus and thoughts of a local congregation that has not had a proper emphasis on them.  The emotions it creates could easily cause people to jump in too quickly though.  Much prayer and counseling should be done before any radical decisions are made.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Westminster Catechism Rap

I am not usually a fan of rap music but every now and then I find something that I like.  That is the case today.  I follow CJ Mahaney’s blog in my RSS reader and today’s  post contained the Westminster Catechism Rap.  I had to listen and it was not too bad.  Listen for yourself at the link below and see if you agree.

Click here

 

 

Are you a Christian hedonist?

Should you be?  The short answer, according to John Piper, is yes.  In Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Piper makes his case for why he believes the Bible teaches that we should all be Christian hedonists.  This is a book that I can highly recommend.  It was originally written about 25 years ago (1986)  and a revised edition has been released this year.  The book will be helpful for Christians of any maturity level but I think it will be most helpful for younger or newer believers.  It will drive them to Scriptures to see whether Piper’s claims and explanations are true.  It will also serve to get rid of some of the stereotypes placed on Christians.

Piper lives by the motto “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”.  Starting with this he lays out the biblical case that all Christians should be Christian hedonists.  Christian hedonism is defined as a philosophy of life in which Christians seek to maximize their joy with the understanding that the only true way to accomplish this is to seek it in Christ.  As our joy in Christ grows He receives more glory.

This book is saturated with Scripture.  Piper backs up everything he says by proving it from the word of God.  He also quotes other sources extensively such as Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Lewis, an many, many more.  He deals with many areas Christians can exercise their Christian hedonism such as worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions, and sufferings.  Christian hedonism should touch every aspect of the believers life and draw him/her closer to God.

Do yourself a favor and read this book……

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogging for Books review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Why Is Looking For A Church So Difficult?

My family and I have recently begun to look for a new church home.  I won’t go into the reasons we left our previous church except to say that we just did not “fit” there.  So now we have to find a church where we do “fit”.  It is proving to be more difficult that you might expect.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, unless you have a change of life circumstance (such as moving for a new job) you are probably leaving as a result of some problem.  The problem may be with you or with the church.  As a result, there are probably some frustrations or hurt feelings to overcome.  If not dealt with these will hinder most of us, at least for a while, in the search for a new church home.

Second, many churches are structured and function very similarly to every other church in your area.  This similarity can be a strength but it can also be a weakness.  So when you visit a new church, especially within the same denomination, you are likely to be very familiar with what is going on there.  What are you to do if one of the reasons you are leaving is the “traditional” structure?  For example, lets assume that one of the reasons you are leaving your current church is the emphasis on a person’s decision (decisional regeneration) in the way the altar call is done.  If every other church you can choose to attend does it the same way then you really have no options.  This would contribute to the frustration you have.

Third, everybody has personal preferences in some things.  For example, some prefer a certain style of music in the worship service.  Some prefer a certain style of preaching or a particular Bible translation.  It is common to hear someone say something like “I won’t go to a church that does contemporary music” or “I won’t go to a church that does not use the King James version of the Bible”.  So, in the search for a new church you want to find one that fits most of your preferences.  These preferences are important but should not be the sole cause for rejecting a church.  Placing these types of limitations on the search for a suitable church may cause God’s will to be missed.

Fourth, sometimes there are other factors in the search for a new church.  For example, some have children so they are looking for a church with a biblically sound and vibrant youth and children’s program.   There are many good and healthy churches that may have a small number of kids.  They do a good job with the kids they have but there are just not many of them.  Bigger is not always better but bigger does usually mean more opportunities / activities.

All of these factors apply in my personal situation.  There may be other factors that would apply to you.  None of these should outweigh God’s will in our decision.  The problem comes when we look at these factors and try to filter God’s will through them.  This should never be the case.  I see nothing wrong with keeping these factors in mind while looking for where God wants you to end up but they must be put in their proper place.

Are you currently or have you been looking for a new church home?  If so, what factors are you considering that I have not mentioned here.  Leave a comment and let me know what they are…chances are other will have the same or similar ones.

God’s Sovereignty Is The Basis Of Evangelism

Have you ever considered on what basis Christians can evangelize the lost?  Now think about it a moment before you blurt out something like “because God tells us to”.  That is a true, God does indeed command us to evangelize but that does not address the basis for the evangelism.  So, what is the basis?

Alan Kurschner answers this question in this post over at Alpha & Omega Ministries.  He starts this way

God’s sovereign election is the only basis by which any believer has confidence to evangelize the lost. We do not know who the elect are in this lifetime, but what we do know with certainty is that there are elect out there.

All Christians, if they believe the Bible, must agree with this.  Read the rest of Alan’s post to see how he further explains this.  Let me know what you think.

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