Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Revelation 21


Our sinless Savior came to die;
So that we might be sanctified.
He washed us clean from all our sin,
He broke the curse, He conquered death.

It Is Not Death to Die

Three months ago my dad passed away. There were a number of us who had shared the Gospel with him throughout his life with increased passion in his last days. On his deathbed, my dad professed faith in Christ, praise be to God. I certainly miss him a lot, there’s not a day that passes that I don’t think of him. His favorite singer-songwriter, John Prine, has been playing nearly every day since my dad was in the ICU for the first time.

Just days before he went into septic shock, ultimately resulting in cardiac arrest, my dad went from being terrified of the unknown to embracing it. Something in his heart changed. He no longer feared the grave and I am convinced it is because he knew what it would bring.

Monday, October 15, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Go+Do


GO+DO
DARING TO CHANGE THE WORLD ONE STORY AT A TIME

Jay Milbrandt
Tyndale House Publishers, 2012

Here is a book I wish I had read sooner. When I first received “Go+Do” from Tyndale House Publishers I was in an incredibly busy stage of life. My dad was about to be released from prison and my spring semester of seminary was coming to an end. Looking back, I would have been better served by not placing this on my “roundtuit” list. Now that I have actually read the book, I am grateful.

As a forewarning for potential readers, this is not a book filled with great theology. I would urge you to read Milbrandt’s work with your theological guard up. At the same time, Milbrandt’s intention was never to give good theology. On the contrary, the title well summarizes his purpose. He wants to inspire his audience to “go and do” the work needed to aid in a hurting world.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why Learn?

The aim of knowledge is to grow more like Christ, giving him all glory. The educational aim for the Christian teacher should be primarily to point to Christ through whom all truth flows. Education institutions are to teach both general revelation (regarding the natural) and special revelation (regarding the supernatural). Because schools design cultures, Christian schools ought to teach both forms of knowledge through a biblical worldview.

If God created the world, then it must be the case that the world reveals something about him. That's not to say that everything perfectly reveals something about God because we do live in a fallen, corrupt state. However, that should not keep us from learning and studying further about the Creator who designed all things. Thus, when we study science, theology, or philosophy, the goal is to reveal something about the glory of God. That is valuable.

When it comes to reading Scripture, which is the very word of God, we aim to learn about him as well. Unlike the world we live in, the Bible is not corrupt. It is the inerrant, infallible Word of God (original autographs). Thus, when our churches and Christian schools teach, they teach to point to our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. They are to teach both natural revelation and special revelation. It's important to have Christian schools and Christian educators because schools design culture. This is the very reason for the secular takeover of the public education  system in the West. 

What is Knowable?


There are two types of revelation, general and special. All learners can know general revelation because it has been revealed in the natural world. General revelation, therefore, is primarily sensory and discovered through sciences. Only some can know special revelation though. It is revealed by God through his Holy Spirit. The Christian learner should study both as he is able to know both.

Going back to the question of "What is Truth?" we learned recognized two kinds of truth: (a) natural; and (b) supernatural. Natural truth is observable by the human eye (or the aided human eye in the case of microscopic things). Supernatural truth, on the other hand, is recognized by experience and special divine revelation. For example, natural revelations are those things we can come to know through the use of empirical science as to where supernatural (special) revelations are those which God reveals to us. 

Scripture, being the very words of God, explain how God created everything originally good. Thus, it is also good (valuable) for us to study the natural world as well as theology and philosophy. By studying these things we can come to greater knowledge of God. At the same time, not all science, theology, and philosophy is true. Thus, we use the Word of God (the 66 books of the Bible) to discern what is truth. If it is true it will not run contrary to the Word of God.

If something does run contrary to God's Word, then there are three possibilities: (a) we have incorrect truth claims; (b) we have interpreted Scripture wrongly; or (c) we have incorrect truth claims and we have interpreted Scripture wrongly.

[Romans 1, 2; Matthew 28]

What are Values?


Values can only be found in God’s glory. They are determined by God who is the creator of all things. All things were created to glorify him. And all things were originally created good. God is good and defines what is good.

We do not live in a dualistic world, meaning, evil is simply a lack of good. Thus, when someone murders an innocent person, evil is not a thing that lives within the murderer, but rather, a lack of good within the murderer. What is good is determined by God. His character is the very definition of good. 

When people ask, "Can God logically commit evil?" it's like asking if God can make a rock to heavy for himself to lift or if he can make a squared circle. The answer is no. It's not that he is too powerless to create a rock too heavy even for him to lift, it's that the questioner has given a question that goes against the law of non-contradiction. Therefore, we can conclude, God, being holy and perfect, cannot commit evil because it goes against the law of non-contradiction. If he were able to commit evil (remember this is a lack of good), then he wouldn't be God. One of the requirements of God's character is that he is good.

If the God of Scripture exists, and I believe we have ample reason to believe this is the case, then we can expect that only that which he defines as being good is actually good. Those are the things of value.

[Romans 9, 11; Ephesians 1; Proverbs 16:33; 1 John; Genesis 1, 2]

What is Truth?



Truth is objective and determined by God. “All truth is God’s truth,” but not all claimed truths are actually true. Truth does not run contrary to what is spoken by God through his Word. Jesus Christ is knowledge and truth. General revelation tends to be truth that is universally recognized. Knowledge is truth. The truth is everywhere the same. Truth is objective and valued. Some truth and knowledge are so clear cut that issues will be agreed upon by the majority of all peoples.

For starters, truth is not arbitrary. Regardless of whether or not one recognizes truth as such does not change the "reality" of it at the end of the day. That's not to say that if you and I give two contrary sets of truth claims that we are both right. We could both be wrong, but we could not both be right. One of us would have to be wrong by necessity. 

Therefore, truth is not like some kind of moral zeitgeist of the day. It does not change from culture-to-culture or time period to time period. For example, today the world exists. That fact will not change tomorrow. It is logically conceivable that the world won't exist tomorrow, but it will not change the fact that the world exists today and it certainly doesn't change if you go to another nation or culture. The world still exists. That is a clear cut issue that no rational being can deny. The world exists.

[Genesis 1, 2; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 1; John 10; Matthew 5; Luke 24]

What is Reality?

Reality is independent of the human knower. There are two distinct, but not separate realities. The natural reality is sensory while the spiritual reality cannot be empirically proven or tested. God is the creator of all things, natural and supernatural, with the exception of himself. God is uncreated. All things were originally created good until the fall when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. All of humanity inherited a sinful nature and are fallen. Everyone is need of redemption to be restored.

Reality isn't brought about by experience and it certainly isn't created by human minds. At the same time, there are two aspects of reality: (a) the reality that is; and (b) the reality we experience. The "reality that is" simply means that this is the cold hard fact. It's sometimes empirically provable (natural) and at other times it is not (supernatural/spiritual). 


Because God created all things, he is the only one who has exhaustive knowledge about either natural or supernatural reality. He created all things and he created all things originally good. At the fall, man was deceived and sinned against a holy, perfect God. Thus, the first couple (and they are historic) brought sin into this world. All are infected. All are therefore separated from God. All are in need of a Savior.


[Genesis 1-3; Romans 3, 9; Deuteronomy 39:39; John 1; 1 John 1]

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Shot of Faith to the Head



A SHOT OF FAITH TO THE HEAD 
BE A CONFIDENT BELIEVER IN AN AGE OF CRANKY ATHEISTS
MITCH STOKES
THOMAS NELSON, 2012

Mitch Stokes has studied under some of the greatest Christian thinkers and philosophers alive today. His mentors are some of the most influential philosophers in the world, religious or secular. This book is self-defense training to build confidence for believers in the midst of a world that constantly attacks their faith.

Mitch Stokes has authored a fascinating book on apologetics. A Shot of Faith to the Head makes a wonderful addition to any library. I believe this book will be most suitable for younger generations who are facing the problem of New Atheism and a rise of agnostic friends more so than their parents. But, this is a great book for training up any person in apologetics.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

He has shown his people the power of his works 
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
- Psalm 111:6
The opening verses of the book of Psalms reads: “Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night,” (1:1a, 2). Recently my small group went through JD Greear’s “Gospel Revolution” study. This is one of the key points Greear brings up throughout the study. Our obedience should not be primarily out of obligation (though we are obligated), but a result of desire, or as the Psalmist says, “delight.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage and the Basis for Morality

Photo taken from www.barackobama.com

WHAT IS MORALITY ANYWAY?

The worldwide webernet is ablaze with discussion regarding same-sex marriage right now. Surely you have noticed that much. President Obama has unveiled his support for it, though it’s a bit late for the North Carolina election and a number of people are torn. Some say the president should have done more while others applaud him for doing more than any other president. Some are accusing North Carolina voters of being bigots while others are commending them for their vote.

Not too long ago Joel Osteen actually revealed his feeling on an issue. Even Joel Osteen says same-sex marriage isn’t “God’s best” for a person. Whatever that means. Evangelicals and political conservatives have taken a verbal beating from the other side. Either way, Christians and supporters of “traditional marriage” are not going to win this debate. I say that hesitantly so let me define that statement. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: The Necessity of an Enemy


THE NECESSITY OF AN ENEMY
HOW THE BATTLE YOU FACE IS YOUR BEST OPPORTUNITY

Ron Carpenter, Jr.

WaterBrook Press, 2012

Ron Carpenter, Jr.’s book, “The Necessity of an Enemy,” is broken up into eight sections: (1) The Necessity; (2) The Plan; (3) The Target; (4) The Enemy Within; (5) Weapons of Mass Destruction; (6) Prowling Your Neighborhood; (7) How to Fight to Win; and (8) The Spoils of Victory. Carpenter's thesis is that we have an enemy and we need to fight that enemy with all we have because we can, because it's necessary.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: 40 Questions About the End Times


40 Questions About the End Times
By: Echard Schnabel
Series Editor: Benjamin L. Merkle

Kregel Academic and Professional, 2011


Thanks to Benjamin Merkle, the Series Editor for Kregel’s “40 Questions” books, evangelicals now have a quick and concise tool for understanding end times. The book’s author, Echard Schnabel, is an evangelical and takes a very conservative look at all end times scripture throughout the Bible.


Perhaps the most helpful thing he has done is not begin with Revelation. I believe folks are guilty of going straight to the end of the Bible to understand what will happen in the end times which is not beneficial unless you have a good idea of the rest of the Bible’s metanarrative. To understand apocalyptic writing in scripture, one must understand the genre in general, but also understand the book of Daniel.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Remaining Confident in the Gospel

This morning at T4G, Thabiti Anyabewile is speaking from 1 Timothy 4. I sometimes go through the seasons of doubt he is talking about by losing confidence in the Gospel. Not that I wouldn't affirm the Gospel as a necessity and of first importance, but that even in my thoughts I question whether it is true.

Being a student of Southern Seminary and the leader of a college ministry, you probably think I am an apostate or heretic. No. I am just being honest. We will all go through doubts unlike Jesus who had perfect confidence. When we do go through these doubts, it is important to have your faith community and closest friends with you for support.

As Anyabewile has said this morning, it is necessary that we have confidence in the Gospel. Those who we witness and minister to need us to be confident and we need the confidence. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4, the Gospel is sufficient. It has everything we need. Going further, the Gospel is trustworthy. And lastly, the Gospel comes to the worst of sinners and has the power to save the least deserving (including myself).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Trusting in the Sovereignty of God


Dear Readers,

This post is not primarily about me, nor is it primarily about my doubts, fears, frustrations, or complaints. This post is about thankfulness and joy. The thankfulness and joy we have in Christ who has redeemed us. Coming out of Easter Sunday, my awareness has been heightened as it has been with most. My thankfulness and gratitude for my salvation and the multiple blessings God has given me is great. At that same time, I am fighting doubt.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Our Favorite Sins



BOOK REVIEW

OUR FAVORITE SINS

The Sins We Commit & How You Can Quit
Todd D. Hunter
Thomas Nelson, 2012

I was excited to receive this book after requesting it from BookSneeze. It’s got a great design and the review makes it out to be the best new book on battling against daily struggles with sin. But, it’s not. I cannot, and will not, recommend this book.

Maybe I should have read the endorsements, particularly who they were from, before getting my hopes up. Our Favorite Sins reads little better than a twist on self-help which Hunter seemingly does not like… At the end of his book he recommends his readers to leave the realm of self-help requiring me to conclude that he does not want anyone to read this book either.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: As One Devil to Another



BOOK REVIEW

AS ONE DEVIL TO ANOTHER

Richard Platt 
Tyndale House Publishers, 2012

As One Devil to Another is critically acclaimed for accomplishing the best diabolical correspondence since C.S. Lewis introduced the genre with The Screwtape Letters. In As One Devil to Another Slashreap trains his young protégé, Scardagger, to win over souls from Heaven just as Screwtape taught his nephew. The book aims to uncover the very real problems plaguing society today with total accuracy. Anyone who picks up this book will be trapped, in a good way.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Family Ministry and It's Importance in College Ministry



BOOK REVIEW

TRAINED IN THE FEAR OF GOD

Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective
Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones, Editors
Published by Kregel Academic and Professional, 2011


Due to the nature of this book, my review will be different than normal. I feel it is necessary to go into more detail regarding specific issues because of the relevance of the truth this book is able to communicate at this specific time to our culture. Thus, this is not a thorough review of every chapter, though I endorse it with confidence and certainty that every chapter is able to successfully speak to the topic of its focus. Instead, this review is an in-depth look at specific chapters that demand much attention in my ministry context.