Saturday Sampler: August 19 — August 25

Birds Sampler

Let’s start this week’s Sampler by going to Knowable Word for Ryan Higginbottom’s Context Matters: The Lord’s Prayer. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the fact that we mustn’t isolate portions of Scripture.

I debated long and hard about including The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? by Michelle Lesley only because I don’t want to tempt men to read it. But I definitely believe young mothers should seriously consider Michelle’s Biblical perspective on this controversial matter.

The Believer And Suicide by John Chester appears in Parking Space 23. He handles this difficult issue with sensitivity and tact while also maintaining a solid commitment to the Word of God. Please note: throughout his article, Chester correctly identifies suicide as a sin. Nothing he writes should be construed as permission to kill yourself.

Don’t overlook Maybe We Need Less Math and More History, in which Tim Challies outlines several benefits of studying church history. How can I not love this one?

As a contributor to For The Church, Patrick Meador encourages each of us to Be a Missionary, Not a Marketer. This is one of the best responses to the church growth industrial complex that I’ve read in a long time.

John MacArthur continues laying his foundation for critiquing the Social Justice Movement on this Grace To You blog with The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1  and The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2. These posts help explain why this current trend weakens the mission of the Church.

Reasoning from Scripture, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time analyzes a Facebook meme in Throwback Thursday: Does God Speak In Unidentified Promptings? Ladies, we must follow Elizabeth’s example and think Biblically when we see “Christian” memes on social media.

Few American evangelicals really believe that persecution is knocking at our door. SlimJim of The Domain for Truth gives us a needed wake up call with Tolerance? Church Vandalized. It’s a short but personal account that demands our attention.

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The Mess The Church Is In Now

Catholic to Protestant

Few Christians disagree that the visible church is corrupt. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore the moral compromises infecting all denominations, as well as independent churches as scandals proliferate. Social media only makes matters worse. Some “discernment blogs” (particularly Pulpit & Pen) absolutely delight in reporting every negative tidbit they can find. To be honest, scandal sells.

Admittedly, sometimes we need to name names. I have boldly written about Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Sarah Young, Matthew Vines and others who inject false teaching into evangelical circles and thereby distort the Gospel. Additionally I have addressed popular trends like Holy Yoga, direct revelation, seeker-sensitive churches and the Social Justice Movement many times on this blog. I will continue doing so when I believe situations warrant such articles.

The visible church is unquestionably a mess.

We often forget, however, that the visible church has always been a mess. Paul wrote most of his epistles for the express purpose of confronting false doctrines and sinful practices within the First Century churches. As Roman Catholicism developed its system of justification by works, few professing Christians understood the Gospel of salvation by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Protestant Reformation restored the Bible to common people, although many Christians died as martyrs. Catholic authorities accused these men and women of heresy because they accepted Scripture’s authority over that of the pope.

All too soon after the Reformation, Enlightenment philosophers attracted the attention of the Puritans, enticing them to integrate rationalism into theology. From there, liberalism and psychology easily blended into churches, always at the expense of doctrinal purity.

A friend of mine once scoffed at my blog posts about church history, explaining that she cares more about the mess the church is in now. Actually, I share her concern. That’s precisely why I blog so frequently about people and trends that assault the authority, inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word.

But in combating the current mess in the visible church, it can help to go back in time. Certainly, our ultimate stop must be the First Century, as we stand unwaveringly  on the Word of God. We must study, interpret and apply it in context. That’s why Michelle Lesley and I write regular Bible Studies in our blogs that lead you through large portions of Scripture, showing you the progression of thought propelling each verse.

Church history can aid our application of Scripture by showing us how Christians before us dealt with messes in the visible church. We can learn from the things they did right, but also from the things they did wrong. They can teach us how to identify false teaching, and consequently how to correct it with Scripture.

The visible church most assuredly is in a mess now. Church history testifies that it’s pretty much always in a mess. If we really want to restore the church to purity, why not trust church history to teach us how to apply God’s Word?

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Last Time I Looked, I’m Not Elijah

Bema

Thanks to A Narrow Minded Woman, today I read probably the finest article I’ve ever come across explaining why God doesn’t speak to present-day believers in the “still small voice” that He used with Elijah (1 Kings 19:12, KJV). No matter what position you take on this issue, you really need to carefully read this article! Let me tell you why.

To be fair, I’ll begin with the people in my camp, Continue reading

Who Is The Whoever?

Whoever BelievesAnybody raised in even a nominal Christian environment can recite John 3:16 effortlessly.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)

What a wonderfully concise presentation of the Gospel!

Sometimes, however, Christians use this verse in isolation from its context to substantiate the doctrine of free will. So, while my article today can’t possibly offer a complete argument against free will, Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: July 22 — July 28

3D Beads Sampler

I didn’t read Douglas Wilson’s The Facebook Penalty Box until after I published last week’s edition of Saturday Sampler, but his faithfulness to preserve Robert Gagnon’s banned Facebook post responding to the Revoice conference deserves attention. For several reasons. Wilson blogs at Blog & Mablog.

You’ve heard me say countless times that context is essential to interpreting the Bible. If you want more evidence that context makes a difference, read Do Children Need to Take Care of Their Parents? OR Another Reason Context Is Important by Mike Leake of Borrowed Light. You might even learn something about First Century Roman culture.

Hohn Cho, writing for Pyromaniacs, issues Convictions of the “Social” Justice Movement and Responses Thereto. Though this isn’t exactly light reading, it gives us a handle on this movement’s main tenants and examines those tenants through the lens of Scripture.

Reflecting on the life of a woman who greatly influenced her, Erin Benziger writes A Life Exhausted for Jesus in Do Not Be Surprised.

On her blog, The End Time, Elizabeth Prata reminds us that Taming the Tongue on Social Media is a responsibility that Christians must take seriously.  She offers an interesting perspective on silence that we typically overlook in discussions on this matter. Her essay deserves attention just for that.

We’ve all asked Where Do People Who Never Hear of Jesus Go When They Die? In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge answers this question from Scripture and then explains our responsibility to evangelize all nations.

Inevitably, most Christians find something about God that, to be honest, we just don’t like. Addressing that reality in his blog post for Things Above Us, Michael Coughlan writes When the Honeymoon is Over to both confront and encourage us. His observations deserve consideration.

What Is The Greatest Motivation In Your Life? asks Carol Ann Kiker in her Biblical Woman blog post. Her application of principles in Colossians 3 to various aspects of daily life is practical and honoring to the Lord.

Giving us a birds eye view of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Peter Krol writes Context Matters: You Have Heard That it was Said…But I Say to You in Knowable Word. If the current chatter about laying aside the Old Testament intrigues you, I beg  you to read this study and consider how Jesus regarded it.

Sometimes I believe Michelle Lesley and I lead parallel lives. At least spiritually. I nodded in knowing agreement as I read When God Answers the “Wrong” Prayer. Michelle models how godly women should pray, but also how to respond when God answers the one prayer that our flesh secretly hopes He doesn’t hear.

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According To Scripture: Study #10 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

We could have ended our Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15 and the resurrection at verse 28. Nobody would have noticed my clever avoidance of verse 29.  At least,  if they did notice, they hardly would have blamed me. I mean, just look at it:

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? (ESV)

Goodness gracious!  Has the apostle Paul just validated a Mormon ritual? I certainly see how people might scratch their heads in bewilderment over this verse. My scalp has a few fingernail marks on it from reading it over the past 47 years. Continue reading

According To Scripture: Study #8 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

I’ll let you in on a secret.  Don’t tell anyone, but I had real trouble preparing today’s Bible Study, and only managed to get through two verses.  Maybe, if you don’t say anything, people won’t notice and they’ll think I deliberately limited this week’s discussion to verses 23 and 24 of 1 Corinthians 15 for dramatic emphasis. I’m sure my secret is safe with you!

Despite my struggles preparing today’s Bible Study, I’m excited by the connection the apostle Paul makes between the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection and His Second Corning. Although eschatology isn’t my strongest area, studying verses 23 and 24 over the last seven days has sparked my interest in the subject. So, ladies, let’s get some context and then see how these two verses bridge the gap between Christ’s resurrection and the last things.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ~~1 Corinthians 15:20-28 (ESV)

Please bear in mind that I believe verses 23 and (especially) 24 support  the teaching of Christ’s 1,000 year reign on earth before His final destruction of Satan (Revelation 20:7-10). So I will approach this study with that presupposition, apologizing that time doesn’t permit me to go into an explanation of the Millennial kingdom.

Verse 23 tells us that resurrection occurs in a specific order. The Greek word translated as “order” denotes the idea of ranks, as in the military. Each rank, therefore, experiences resurrection at its appointed time. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown believe those ranks are as follows:

In this chapter, of course, Paul confines the discussion to Christ and those who belong to Him. Christ rose three days after His crucifixion, and believers will be resurrected when He returns. You’ll remember from our discussion of verse 12 (Study #5) that a faction of the Corinthian church, while apparently confessing that Christ rose from the dead, denied that anybody else would experience physical resurrection. Verse 23 reinforces Paul’s assurances that Christians will  indeed share His resurrection.

The phrase, “at His coming,” must not be overlooked. Christ’s Second Coming completes the Gospel message as it points to His eternal kingdom. The resurrection assures believers that life extends beyond the grave; Christ’s Second Corning ensures the full realization of that life.

Moving to verse 24, Paul gives us a glimpse into eschatology. After the resurrection of believers, the end will come. This “end” includes the general resurrection, the final judgment, and the consummation of God’s kingdom. Barnes explains that this “end” completes Christ’s work of redeeming His Church. I hasten to add that we mustn’t confuse this idea of completion with Christ’s finished work of atoning for sin (John 19:30). Rather, redemption will be fully realized when He returns and our physical bodies become reunited with our spirits.

Paul goes on to say that Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father. Commentators give very complex explanations of this clause, which I think is best understood by comparing it with Matthew 11:27. As the Father handed authority to His Son, so at the end the Son will present His Kingdom back to His Father.

Christ will deliver the kingdom to the Father after He destroys the rule of His enemies. By this, according to Barnes, Paul means anything opposed to God. “They include, of course, the kingdoms of this world; the sins, pride, and corruption of the human heart; the powers of darkness – the spiritual dominions that oppose God on earth, and in hell; and death and the grave.”

Again, Revelation 20:7-10 describes the destruction of Christ’s enemies, and I highly recommend reading that passage. Next Monday, we’ll look at the final enemy to be destroyed, as well as the reason Christ will hand the kingdom over to the Father. In the meantime, I’d love to receive your comments and/or questions in the Comments Section, on The Outspoken TULIP Facebook page or even on Twitter.

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