Thursday, November 29, 2007

speak to us, HOLY SPiRiT

The more I read the Bible and see how its main characters interact with God, the more I have seen how most of them had an open speaking relationship with Him. This is true for Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Nehemiah, the prophets, Peter, Philip, Ananias, Paul, and others. Does this happen today? Yes.

Dumb dispensational arguments cannot stand against this because this truth transcends all of their abiblical categories. The cessationist argument cannot stand either. If the crazy gifts were only for the apostles, and Philip and Ananias were not apostles, then their position likewise crumbles [with the help of a dozen other reasons; sorry Pd].

So, how do we hear from the Spirit today? How do we listen to the voice of God? I'm not speaking metaphorically. This doesn't necessarily mean that God will at all times speak audibly or call your cell. But how is it that we hear from God just as believers in the NT did? Acts can't be a normative template because it is a historical narrative. At the same time, it can't be a book of exceptions either. How do we do this without turning into faith-healing, doctrinally shallow, third wave, give-me-your-money-so-you-can-get-blessed Pentecostals? Here are a couple things to keep in mind.

  1. 98% of guys today who say they have heard God also tell you to put your hands on the screen if you've had a lousy day. We see so many who claim to be led by the Spirit, but it is evident by their fruit that that is not the case. That scares us.
  2. We simply don't believe it can happen and our thoughts of the power of the Holy Spirit's presence are far too small.
  3. We never pray to that end. Paul also said to "earnestly desire" to prophesy, but we never do. This could be closely related to numero 2.
  4. Many think that hearing God speak is dangerous because it could be added doctrine or extra special revelation. When guys on TBN, etc stand up and say they have "a word" from God, generally they mean they are getting ready to preach something they call a sermon.
  5. If one looks closely, this is not how the Spirit speaks. He speaks unto kingdom ministry [i.e. like Philip going to talk to the eunich in Acts 8]. God does not speak today on the lines of new revelation and/or new doctrine. How absurd. He speaks to prompt in ministry and service, not to reveal something that no one else never knew.
  6. We have to surround ourselves with others who also want it. I meet with some pastors and guys every Tuesday and we crave to hear the Lord's voice. We crave to feel the Spirit's presence.
  7. We have to realize that this happens in juxtaposition to the revealed word of God. The Spirit and the word are life. Read John. Read Luther. They concur.
  8. Lastly, read books and listen to sermons of guys who believe that we can hear from the Holy Spirit and who do.
  9. Download week 15's sermon from here.

every church christmas play in history has been wrong....

[at least Todd Bolen thinks so here]

This is an interesting point and I would likely agree with him, but would have to read/study a bit more on it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ROMANS 1 [just thinking?]

How do "power of God" in 1.16, "righteousness of God" in 1.17, and "wrath of God" in 1.18 all relate? All have the same structure in Greek. The gospel is the key here. Power is unto salvation through the gospel. In the the gospel, the righteousness of God is revelaed. So, does wrath come upon those who have no power or righteousness through the gospel? I believe so. Those recipients of the wrath of God in 1.18 have stiff-armed the "truth of God" in 1.18 and 1.25. The immediate need here is righteousnes [or a righteouesness] because the wrath of God comes upon all unrighteousness in 1.18. The gospel grants power unto this end.

Pardon my Pauline keyboard-brainstorming. See the gospel in Isaiah 52.7 and Nahum 1.15.

"holy Eucharist, batman!"

A friend of mine and I were talking about the Lord's Supper the other day and this is the fruit of that chat. Catholicism says that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Jesus. Baptists/Menonites/Anabaptists say that the elements are strictly symbolic. Everyone in between interestingly, biblically, and/or spiritually defines their position. So, if there was a "Substance Scale" [from the Latin substantia] and Catholics were a 10, Lutherans were a 7, Anglicans were a 5-8, Presbyterians were a 4, and Baptist/Menonites/Anabaptists were a 1.... Where would you land? Obviously, where you land should not have any drastic effect on the beauty and purpose of the Eucharist. Here is a good reminder of that. It should always be a humbling act that points us to the cross. But on the scale, I myself am probably a solid 2.87.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

rob bell is a false teacher?

So I went and saw Rob Bell Monday night in Atlanta. The ticket was free, but it was worth the few hour journey down there just for what happened before it even started. It was at this venue/bar, so there are definitely going to be some perturbed conservatives about that. However, I wasn't ready for what happened.

These guys on the street were yelling that Rob Bell was a false teacher and he was preparing souls for damnation. This dude was hollering about womens' breasts hanging out of their shirts and people being biblically illiterate and that it was all Rob Bell's fault. Kinda harsh. They were saying that Rob Bell was described in Ezekiel 13. I was shocked to open my Bible and find the perfect description of a skinny, trendy, geeky, intuitive pastor. Anyway....

So naturally, I approached this one guy
and wanted to talk to him. He was mingling his false-teacher screaming with bits about repentance, which I obviously agreed with. Before I knew it, one of his friends [who wasn't screaming so much] was interviewing me about how Bell doesn't believe in the inspiration of the Bible. I told him that I doubted Rob Bell had said that. I then found myself being video-recorded. Oh boy. The moral of this story, I suppose, is that I might end up on YouTube saying that I don't believe the Bible and that Rob Bell and Joel Osteen are dating.

In the end, Bell's 2-hour schpeel was ok, but it almost put me to sleep. But the Lord taught me something cool in hindsight of all this. Just as much as I yap about Bell, McLaren, Piper, NT Wright, Catholicism, Calvinism, yada, yada, blah, blah - I need to be in prayer for those guys and those people that Jesus would be their all, that the word would be their life, that they would be wholly yielded to the Spirit of God, and that they would cherish the Gospel far above all else. I prayed for Rob.

So.... if you see me YouTube and I say something dumb, it's not my fault.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I don't know if a book has ever punched me harder in my spiritual gut. As much as it is possible to be a Saint Francis in modern America, Shane Claiborne is so. He rightly understands that God has called His people to social justice and mercy in this corrupt world. There are probably 20 or 30 sentences throughout this biographical sketch that I might take issue with theologically. I suppose a good litmus test for this is that Brian McLaren wrote a killer blurb for Shane on this one. However, there is no Catholic, Calvinist, or charasmatic in the world that won't be stirred by what God has done in and through this brother. Go buy it. Or borrow it if you're too arrogant to have it in your library.


To the scholar, it will warm his heart and prod his mind. To the pastor, it will cause him to see the need for precision in language and push him to do that on tough texts. To Joe in the pew, read chapter 11 and the appendices and be challenged to think deeper about what Saint Paul really said. There are occasional places where Piper gets repetitive, but not to a fault. You can tell he has really studied and conversed with Wright in this book. Piper even thanks Wright in the intro for his 11,000-word response to Piper's first draft. There are sections where I'm convinced that the standard Reformed understanding of imputation/justification cannot fit. There are other places where the New Perspective's "covenant faithfulness" can't quite be seen. Still, this is exactly how theological debates should be handled.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Paul’s questions in Rom 6 and following [“Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” in 6.1; or “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” in 6.13; and others] must be read with the backdrop of chapters 1-5.

If someone is “made righteous” [this is how Catholicism defines justification] by faith in 1-5, then the expectation of an upright and holy person is that they will not sin. This is what righteous means. There was only one of those persons. But what if chapters 1-5 teach that when a person believes, he or she is “pronounced” and/or “declared” righteous? If this latter proposition be true, then it must also be pregnant with questions such as “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound?"

Further still, this pronouncement is such that it is not only a counting or a reckoning of one as righteous, but it is a declaration that ensures that one day the justified individual will be completely righteous like and with Jesus. Why else would Paul say that God predestined these to be “conformed to the image of His Son”? Why else would he continue his argument to say that all God predestined, God also called; and all God called, He also justified; and all God justified, He also glorified?

Paul would never link these near the close of his argument in chapters 5-8 and ask the kind of questions he did unless the declaration of righteousness in 1-4 secures the future reality of absolute righteousness forever in the new creation.

ROM 5.12-21

This is a tough text. It is good to keep 1 Cor 15.22 and 15.45 in mind when dealing with it. Noting the following contrasts is important:
  • [5.15] the transgression/the free gift
  • [5.16] result=condemnation/result=justification
  • [5.17] reign of death/reign of righteousness
  • [5.19] one man's disobedience/one man's obedience
  • [5.21] reign of sin by death/reign of grace by righteousness
One mustn't be hung up on "the many" and "all" language if they read this passage rightly. That language is used as descriptive of the posterity of the first Adam and the posterity of the second Adam, Jesus. After discussing justification in a more personal way in Rom 4, Paul articulates it through a wider lens in chapter 5.

He essentially says that the same way we were counted as having sinned in Adam and then we actually sinned in deed from our nature, so then we who are in Christ are counted righteous through His life and death [apart from anything we've done] and then we actually do righteous deeds in obedience "which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" [Eph 2.10]. The Lord is indeed our righteousness [Jer 23.6, 1 Cor 1.30].


This will make you want to have more babies, change how your church is doing youth ministry, be black, and be a Puritan all at the same time. At least it did for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

[walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called]

There’s a church down the road and I really like how they thought through their core values. The pastors got together and essentially asked, “In the Gospels, what are the things that Jesus does the most?” They sifted through all that they saw, narrowed them down to seven, and worded them nicely. Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep all of these in view as we walked and talked through every day?

  • Magnifying Grace
  • Enjoying God
  • Loving Others
  • Understanding God’s Word
  • Depending on the Spirit
  • Living in Integrity
  • Advancing God’s Kingdom

Tuesday, November 13, 2007



  1. What? [praise]
  2. How? [“with” in vs.3-6]
  3. Who? [everything/everyone that has breath in v.6]
  4. Where? [“in” in v.1]
  5. Why? [“for” and “according to” in v.2]
  6. When? [the eternality of “Hallelujah” as in Rev 19]

Monday, November 12, 2007

how to read the NT [future]

Jesus’ first recorded words in the NT are that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Mt 4.17]. Shortly after this, Jesus is found teaching that we should pray for the kingdom to come [Mt 6.10]. So, is the kingdom here or is it coming? Jesus and all the other NT writers would say “yes.” It is both here and coming. This “already/not yet” tension is a unique, but vital lens with which to read the NT.

Those under the old covenant thought that the Messiah’s arrival would immediately right all wrongs, usher in shalom, and bring justice to the world’s chaos. How surprising though that He is doing this in a two-fold way: inaugurating the kingdom at His first coming and consummating the kingdom at His second coming.

This is not simply seen in the use of the word “kingdom” in the NT, but in various other ways. One example is how Paul encouraged and challenged his friends in Rome. He told them that they were dead to sin [Ro 6.2] and then turned right around and told them to consider themselves as dead to sin [Ro 6.11]. Moreover, Paul sometimes says that we have been saved and on other occasions he says that we will be saved. This language can partially be rooted in this “already/not yet” tension.

So, in Christ we currently experience some of the blessings of the future kingdom. With these blessings, we should also be looking for that day in which He will return to gather His saints, judge the nations, and restore all things for His sake.

how to read the NT [salvation]

God made covenant promises to only one people, Israel [Dt 7.6-7]. In Jesus, the Jewish stream of salvation has flooded its banks and watered the Gentile land. The NT makes the move from corporate salvation that is ethnically based to the corporate salvation of the Church which includes people from every tribe, tongue, and nation [Rev 5.9]. The consequences of this are many….

In Hebrews, the readers wanted to go back to their old Jewish ways because it was easier, more tangible, and they would be persecuted less. For some Jews in Acts, their response to Gentiles being saved was anger and jealousy. There were also groups of Jews who attempted to force OT Jewish laws on Gentiles who God was redeeming, saying that they could not be saved without “becoming a Jew” first. The list goes on.

The key thing to remember here is that under the old covenant, only Jews were direct recipients of God’s covenant promises. Now, under the new covenant, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Ac 2.21, Ro 10.13].

how to read the NT [language]

The following 10 words are pregnant with meaning for the NT writers. Analyzing how each writer uses these is important. While different writers put different weight on different words [i.e. John likes “believe” and Paul likes “justify”], these words and a close study of them set pertinent boundaries for what the NT teaches.

how to read the NT [suffering]

Stealing some of the social aspect of #1 and some of the community aspect of #2, the reality of Christian suffering is replete in the NT [Mt 10.22; Lk 9.23-25; Ac 5.40-41, 8.1-3; Ro 8.35-39; 2Cor 4.8-9; Phil 1.29; Heb 10.32-34; Rev 1.9; and others]. This suffering came in many forms and fashions, but was always in close relation to their claims of Jesus as Messiah and Lord. Suffering must be kept in view while seeking to grasp the message of the NT.

how to read the NT [community]

The majority of the “you”s in our English Bible are really plurals in Greek [i.e. Col 3.3, Rom 8.9, and hundreds more!]. Meaning, most “you”s are addressed to a corporate group, not an individual. We are often too post-Freudian, too post-Industrial Revolution, too user-friendly, and too self-esteem driven to see the raw beauty of some of the 1st century’s life-on-life community. Jesus died for the Church, the corporate entity, not a bunch of random people who have no connection to one another. Grasping Paul’s “body of Christ” language and other similar NT talk is hand in hand with these lovely 2nd person plural pronouns!

how to read the NT [society]

It is always important to keep in mind the social structures of the 1st century when reading any 1st century literature. However over-simplified, the below chart is helpful.

[summit church]

My friend Jason, along with his trusty sidekicks Dave and Kyle, are planting a church on Woodruff Road. This is the dead center of all Bible-belt-ness. So, why the heck is he doing it? The trend is that church-planting is an end in itself. Church planters would never say that, but a bunch of them probably think it. I thank God for Jason's articulation of their vision. Their vision is not to plant a church or churches. Their vision is of the kingdom of God and it happens to include church planting.

Several Sundays ago, their people divided up and went to several local churches, worshiped there, and gave them money in attempts to weld to kingdom partnerships. That is beautiful to me. That feels biblical to me. God has given him the gift of seeing the big picture and for him, that's the upstate of SC. Because of this, Jason has done his homework. He's not flashy. He's not over the top. He hasn't succumbed to sacrificing truth on the altar of relevance. He has, through great mercy, heard from God. Support a brother.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


  1. cell phones
  2. dress codes at work
  3. really dumb interpretations of the book of Revelation
  4. mini-vans with two sliding doors and more remote controls and tv screens than Best Buy
  5. telemarketers
  6. inconsistent/ignorant Calvinists
  7. too much hand sanitizer
  8. TBN

Monday, November 5, 2007


Luther knew that the languages would be an issue when defining and defending the gospel and the church. He said in 1524 [in “To the Councilmen of all cities in Germany, That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools”]:

Although the gospel came and comes to us every day through the Holy Spirit alone, nevertheless it came by means of languages, spread through them, and must also be maintained through them. Thus if the gospel is dear to us, we must pay great attention to the languages in which it comes. For it was not without purpose that God let the scripture be written in two languages alone, the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New in Greek. And let us realize that we shall scarcely be able to maintain the gospel without languages. Languages are the sheaths in which the knife of the Spirit is contained. They are the case in which this jewel is borne. They are the vessel in which the drink is held. In fact, wherever we allow the languages to be neglected, we shall not only lose the gospel, but will also finally come to the point where we can speak or write neither Latin nor German properly.

romans 8, SONSHiP, and [imago Dei]

If we were created in God’s image and somehow fallen man still maintains some of that image [see Js 3.9], then what part of the image of God was lost by our fleshly father Adam in the Garden? He wasn’t conceived by normal, fallen, human means and neither was Jesus. So, I think that what was lost in the Garden has something to do with humanity’s sonship to God.

In whatever way we fell in Adam, one thing is sure, Jesus is complete in that way. This is the backdrop to what Paul says in Rom 5.12-21. Perhaps this must also be in view to rightly understand Rom 8.29. Here, Paul says that all those whom God predestined, He did so for them to be conformed to the image of Jesus. He says this because it exalts Jesus’ Sonship and makes those who were not God’s sons into His sons by adoption [Rom 8.15, 23]!

So, I think Paul supports the fact that in the fall, man’s sonship with God was lost. James appears to be on board with this. He says that with the tongue “we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God” [Js 3.9]. See the implication. Additionally, in losing sonship, somehow we also lost moral uprightness. I’ve yet to ponder how the two are connected. “When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” [Gal 4.4-5].

its about time.

This record is quite delightful. Go buy it right now....