Category Archives: beliefs
Introduction to the Series:
TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Imagine that you have five hours to study the Person of God. Where would you start? What passages would you pour over? And why? What do you hope to gain by such a study?
Five Truths about . . . FAITH:
Everyone, to some extent, lives by faith. I read somewhere that a question was sent in to a newspaper answer-man: “How does an elevator work?” The answer-man responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”
We blithely eat the sandwich prepared for us at Subway without asking about the artisan’s background or hygiene. We (usually not men) ask total strangers for directions when we’re lost. We trust our political leaders — sometimes. Everyone “walks by faith” in some sense.
Faith can refer to one’s belief and confidence in how one looks at life. Or faith can refer to the content of truth which God has revealed to us. It is this latter definition that we want to closely examine.
“The FAITH” is used in the Bible to refer to the truths that God has disclosed to us about Himself, His world, and our need of a Savior. And we are to defend that faith vigorously (Jude 3).
Five Issues about FAITH:
1. The SOURCE of our FAITH: Where do we get our beliefs? Some cite their own reason or their experience for what they believe. Others will say they believe what some church authority tells them to believe. But the CHRISTIAN FAITH is derived from God’s supernatural revelation to us in the 66 books of the Bible.
2. The STUDY of our FAITH: We are to study the truths — the doctrines — of the Christian faith as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. If we want to study, for example, the glory of God and we begin at Genesis and work our way all the way through the book of Revelation, that is an approach called “biblical theology.” If we collect all the Scriptures about the glory of God and put them into logical categories, that is an approach called “systematic theology.” Both study methods are useful and focus upon the data of God’s Word.
3. The CHALLENGES to our FAITH: We must ask, “whatever happened to heresy?” The term “heresy” literally means “a choice.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics because they choose to deny the deity of Christ (as well as other doctrines). We must be aware of false teaching in our time and culture in order to refute it and present God’s truth. [I’ve touched on the issue of reading “boiling books” here].
4. The IMPLICATIONS of our FAITH: The Christian “faith” (the content of truth that God has revealed to us) has been given to mature us, to make us more like Christ. Knowing the truths of God is not enough. They must transform us. Our priorities, worldview, daily choices, affections must be challenged and formed by the biblical beliefs we affirm.
5. The SHARING of our FAITH: We are not to keep our FAITH to ourselves. We are under the great commission mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28).
TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Ask someone who is a friend what they understand by the word “faith.” When asked, explain to them the idea that one’s “faith” is one’s worldview, how one looks at reality. Feel free to write out a comment below!
Introduction to the Series:
These posts are in preparation for my writing a series of 30-page booklets which will be designed to teach and apply fundamental truths of the Christian faith. While they do not pretend to address all the issues in a particular area of Christian belief, they will cover some of the basics which every Jesus-follower should affirm and put into practice.
Theology — the study of God and the things of God — is, for most people, as attractive as an appointment for a root canal. But I have often said that “Theology is not boring. Theologians are boring!” The precious truths given to us by a loving and powerful God should excite us and empower us to live for Him. Spiral bound, these lay-flat booklets will provide space for study notes and exercises.
Unfortunately, many Christians look like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice. Some act as if, when they came to Jesus, He gave them a misery pill and told them to go out and medicate the world!
Professional Christians (pastors, missionaries, Bible college and seminary professors) often seem to reflect the idea that doctrine is boring or irrelevant. Listen to what Dorothy Sayers said about such ministers:
“It is not true at all that dogma [doctrine] is ‘hopelessly irrelevant’ to the life and thought of the average man. What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls.” (from Creed or Chaos).
We will show the biblical basis for each of the five truths we will discuss in each of these booklets. We will also take seriously the “So what?” factor. In other words, if I really believe X, what difference ought that to make in my life? Right here? Right now?
So, we will list and discuss the five truths about a particular area of Christian belief, investigate some of its practical implications for the believer, and recommend several resources for further study.
We will begin with . . . FIVE TRUTHS YOU NEED TO BELIEVE ABOUT . . . FAITH! in our next post.
Today’s Challenge: Ask yourself the question: Do you really believe the fundamental truths of the Christian faith? How can your beliefs be tested and lived out?
Friends: Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! The second video is about 15 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.
Due to the Coronavirus I am not allowed to meet face-to-face with my Kirkland cohort (many are lifers) for the next few weeks. I’m providing a couple of videos for them to watch. And you might like what I’ve done! The first video is only 11 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.
These posts were inspired by the late Paul Little’s books Know WHAT You Believe and Know WHY You Believe. Those are certainly worthwhile questions to ask. WHAT exactly do we believe as Jesus-followers? And WHY do we believe such things?
The question that intrigues me is this: DO we really believe the things we say we believe? The question is WHETHER or IF we truly believe. Belief in the Bible leads to life-change, priorities’ reordering, a recalibration of one’s goals and dreams. IF I truly believe the Bible and the Bible alone is God’s Word, I will spend significant time and energy pouring over its truths. IF I truly believe that Jesus is the only Savior — and that man is in desperate need of salvation — then I will strive to be a friend of sinners like Jesus was.
What about the “end times”? What do Jesus-followers actually affirm concerning issues such as heaven, hell, the intermediate state (that time period between one’s death and one’s bodily resurrection), the Second Coming, and the Millennial Kingdom?
Jesus-followers disagree with each other on some of the specific details, such as the timing of the Second Coming vis-a-vis the tribulation. But all believers affirm that Jesus is coming back.
One of the great controversies today is the very idea of . . . hell. Will the God of the Bible actually separate “the wicked” (those who die without Christ) from Himself and the glories of heaven forever? I’ve blogged a lot about this issue — because I came to Christ out of a fear of God’s holy judgment. But that’s not the primary reason I believe in eternal lostness. The Bible is quite clear that there will an eternal bifurcation between “the righteous” and “the wicked.” Matthew 25 makes this clear, as do many other Scriptures.
Today’s Challenge: We have no idea how much time is left before God’s final judgment. Are you and I looking for opportunities to share the gospel with others — before it is eternally too late?
Many have referred to the Spirit as “the forgotten God” or “the forgotten Third.” Granted our primary attention should be given to the Lord Jesus. We are also clearly told in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16) that the Spirit will be sent to glorify the Son. But “primary” attention does not mean exclusive attention.
Jesus-followers should know and worship God the Holy Spirit (because He is divine). We should develop a relationship with Him because He is personal. We can speak to Him, listen for His promptings, and not grieve Him. Developing a relationship with God the Holy Spirit involves learning about His ministries to us and to the world — and co-operating with Him!
IF we say that we “believe” in the Holy Spirit, what does that mean? It must mean more than believing facts about Him. It must mean that our lives will daily be impacted by His indwelling, filling, convicting, illuminating, comforting, confronting, assuring Presence!
A few questions about your relationship with God the Holy Spirit:
2. Do you thank God the Holy Spirit for the spiritual gifts He has given you (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, I Peter 4) to serve the local church? Are you using those gifts?
3. Have you ever grieved the Spirit of God? What did you do about it?
4. When you are reading or studying Scripture, do you pray for the Spirit’s illuminating ministry to you? Can you give an example of His answering your prayer?
Today’s Challenge: Write out a prayer to God the Holy Spirit. It might relate to His ministry of conviction or comfort or challenge. Post that prayer in the Comment section below if you wish.
We are asking the question in these posts IF we truly believe WHAT we say we believe. Like the runaway missionary Jonah, we Jesus-followers can be incredibly orthodox in what we SAY we believe, but heterodox in how we behave.
Early Christians were accused of being “a people of the Book.” Are we? IF we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word composed of 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, our daily interaction with God’s Word ought to show it. Herrick Johnson writes, “If God is a reality, and the soul is a reality, and you are an immortal being, what are you doing with your Bible shut?”
Allow me to ask some very direct questions of you, my friend:
1. Do you have a regular, daily Quiet Time with the Lord? It may be only a few minutes, but you have disciplined yourself to spend time in God’s Word every day. No exceptions (unless you have to take someone to the hospital).
2. Do you study God’s Word? Not simply read it (although I highly recommend what I call “unit-reading” the Scriptures which means reading a whole book at one sitting). What topics or themes are you presently studying? I challenge you to leave a comment below specifying what you are studying in God’s Word.
3. Are you examining the Scriptures daily (like the Berean believers in Acts 18) to evaluate all that you hear from preachers, the media, and other Christians? In this day we dare not believe every idea that comes down the pike.
4. Ponder, think about, the following quote from A.W. Tozer. Consider leaving a comment below.
Today’s Challenge: Either choose a biblical book to unit-read or a topic to study throughout Scripture. Leave a comment below about your choice.
Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #4) WOMEN PREACHERS & SUBMISSION!
We are looking at the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Divided into two sections, Part 1 lists “Ten Things Christians Don’t Need to Believe” and Part 2 is entitled “Ten Things Christians Do Need to Believe.” Let’s think about the fourth belief Christians don’t need to believe.
Women Can’t Be Preachers and Must Submit to Men: Thielen subtitles this chapter “Women are fully equal with men in marriage, in church, and in society.” This, of course, is one of the hottest topics confronting the church today. And let’s be honest — some churches have been marked by dominating, misogynist, male leaders who have not been biblical in their servant-leadership roles!
Thielen refers to the idea that wives should “submit” to their husbands as a “backward idea” akin to the concept of slavery. He says essentially that the Apostle Paul was a man of his time. In other words, he was a part of that misogynist culture and expresses his [erroneous] perspective in his writings.
Thielen believes women should serve as pastors in local churches. He proclaims that he left the Southern Baptist Convention because of their “total rejection of women in pastoral leadership” (p. 22). He quotes Galatians 3:28 which says that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” to prove that gender distinctions should be abolished when it comes to leadership in the church —and in the home.
MY RESPONSE: The issue of women’s roles in church (and home) leadership has divided even Evangelical Christians into two camps: The egalitarians argue for “full equality” and their website is entitled The Council on Biblical Equality and may be found here. The complementarians make their case for gender distinctions in leadership in both home and church and their organization is called The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Their website may be found here. Some of the notable Evangelical leaders in The Council on Biblical Equality (such as Carl E. Armerding, D. Stuart Briscoe, F.F. Bruce, Tony Campolo, Gordon Fee, Bill Hybels, Kenneth S. Kantzer, Walter Liefeld, and Grant R. Osborne) have endorsed their document, “Men, Women, and Biblical Equality” which may be found here.
Some of the leaders in The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood are: John Piper, Wayne Grudem, H. Wayne House, Peter and Rebecca Jones, Bruce Ware, and R. Albert Mohler, Jr. They have produced a document called the 1987 Danvers Statement (found here) and the very helpful 2017 Nashville Statement (found here) (which also deals with issues like transgenderism).
Although there are many issues in this debate, I believe the Bible (if taken as one’s final authority) is clear regarding leadership in the home and leadership in the church (see Ephesians 5, as an illustration). If the Bible (Paul’s writings, for example) is seen as culturally-bound, one must ask, “How then are the epistles of Paul divinely inspired?” It is then up to the reader to sort out “God’s Word” from the (mistaken) opinions of the Apostle.
While God has used many women in biblical history, leadership in the home and the church is not up for grabs. The real issue is: What does the Word of God clearly teach?