Category Archives: theology

What Did JESUS Believe? (Twenty Non-Negotiables Our World Needs): Introduction

Introduction: Over the next few months, friends, I hope to tackle the question,Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.11.48 AM “What did Jesus believe?” In today’s post, let me introduce what I mean and don’t mean by the topic.

First of all, “believe” in the Bible is much more than a personal opinion. One can have a personal viewpoint that is of the nature of an opinion (“I believe the Cubbies will get to the World Series next year!”). But when we ask the question, “What did JESUS believe?”, we are not asking about personal opinions or educated guesses, but how did He affirm reality as only He knows it to be? In a sense, Jesus never expressed a mere personal opinion. When He spoke — if He indeed was the Son of God — the words were absolute truth as only GOD would know it. His “beliefs,” therefore, are not a matter of conjecture or open to debate. And His beliefs must be mine — and yours.

Second, liberal theologians have long accused the early Christians and the First Century church of interpolation. Interpolation is defined as “introducing (something additional or extraneous) between other things or parts; interject; interpose; to insert; to alter a text by the insertion of new matter, especially deceptively or without authorization.” Whew! The charge is that the Early Church invented the doctrines of the Virgin Birth, the deity of Jesus, the idea that He wanted to start a new religion, etc.  The first or second century Christians are accused of reading back those ideas into the teaching of Jesus.

We will see that Jesus’ emphases, those issues He stressed most in HIs teaching,  Screenshot 2015-11-06 07.58.01were clear, counter-revolutionary, and jeopardized His life.

Third, we are not saying that the only authority for the Jesus -follower are the words in red in the gospels. Some red-letter-edition Bibles have led some Christians to emphasize the words of Jesus over the black-lettered words of the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, etc. We believe, as Jesus promised, that much truth was going to be given to the Apostles by God the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended back to the Father.

1. When we apply the word “beliefs” to Jesus, what mistakes are we making (if we are not careful)?
2. How do we keep ourselves from becoming so familiar with the “beliefs” of Jesus that they no longer surprise or upset us?

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2015 in theology


Tags: , ,

Going to ETS in San Diego! (The Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.51.13 AMFriends:

The one professional conference I try to attend each year is The Evangelical Theological Society.  This year it is in the beautiful city of San Diego (where our son and his family lived for a bunch of years).

About 1500-2000 Bible College and seminary profs (along with various other pastoral riff-raff) attend and we sit in conference rooms and listen to each other read “papers.”  “Papers” are scholarly presentations on the Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 9.53.49 AMtheme (which this year is the Church), ask a few questions, meet with old friends, occasionally fall asleep in someone else’s presentation, and visit Christian publishers’ book tables.

Actually many of the papers are quite helpful, inspiring, and provocative.  Some papers I’ll probably attend are:

“Lavishly Forgive Sins in order to Be Forgiven: Jesus’ Parable of the Unmerciful Servant”
“The Ecclesiology of Jesus”
“A Critique of Young Earth Presuppositionalism”
“Society and Culture: Aspects of the First-Century World for a More Contextually Driven Exegesis”
“Does Compatibilism Entail Determinism? – A Pragmatic Argument From Purpose in Evil”
“Who’s Afraid of Theosis?”
“Spiritual Skepticism Over Art in the Local Church”
“Assessing Christian Hedonism”
“Challenge or Invitation? The Church’s Dilemma and Why Sexuality Discussions Are So Hard for the Church”
“Descendit: Delete or Declare? A Defense Against the Neo-Deletionists”Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 9.51.23 AM

Don’t those papers sound interesting?  Or are you eyes getting heavy . . . ? (to be continued)

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 18, 2014 in theology


Tags: ,

The Blessing of Sound Theology! (time for a good cartoon)

FirefoxScreenSnapz244I’ve been studying the little epistle of Titus recently.  Have you noticed how often Paul uses the term “sound” in this three-chapter instruction manual to his young son in the faith?  That word “sound” is used in:
1:9, 13; 2:1, 2, 8

ὑγιαινούσῃ (1:9)- encourage others by sound doctrine & refute . . .
ὑγιαίνωσιν (1:13)- Cretans need to be rebuked so they will be sound in the faith and . . .
ὑγιαινούσῃ (2:1)- you must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine!
ὑγιαίνοντας (2:2)- Teach the older men to be . . . sound in faith, in love and in endurance!
ὑγιῆ (2:8)- In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that can’t be condemned!


1.  How do we attain “sound doctrine”?

2.  As you spiritually diagnose yourself, what aspect of your life would you say is lacking in soundness?

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 24, 2014 in the flood, theology


Tags: , ,


Theology Requires Brains?!


Posted by on June 28, 2014 in theology


Tags: ,

My Vision: “Theology Matters” Conferences

I believe the Lord has given me a vision! (Someone say “Hallelujah!”FirefoxScreenSnapz638 Just kidding).  Okay.  I don’t know what the graphic on the right is supposed to represent.  Is it the hand of God?  Is He wearing a Brooks Brothers suit?  Why is He taking the “O” out of VISION?  I don’t know.

Anyway.  I have a vision for local church, weekend conferences on, are you sitting down, the doctrines of the Christian faith!  I’ve even created my own logo.  Here it is (see below).

I firmly bMicrosoft PowerPointScreenSnapz007elieve that we Christians don’t talk enough about our “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  Here’s my idea:

My Proposal:  I would like to propose that you and your church might consider hosting a “Theology Matters” Conference!  It could take the following form:

1.  A local church or assembly hosts a weekend conference, inviting other local Evangelical churches/assemblies to participate.
2.  A particular theme could be chosen for the weekend.  Recently I’ve done FirefoxScreenSnapz361conferences on the topics of “When Temptation Strikes” and “Doctrine Matters.”  A couple of weeks ago I spoke at Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference and the theme was “Revolutionary Orthodoxy.”
3.  The costs to attend such a conference can be kept low, although people often appreciate what they pay a bit for.  It is my opinion that we need to provide solid teaching for serious Christians, rather than always try to appeal to all.
4.  A book table would be an important source for such serious Christians to continue their pursuit of the things of God.

My Passion:  Having grown up in the Assemblies, I have been privileged to preach His Word and teach the practical doctrines of biblical faith for over 40 years.  Educationally, I have my BA from Northeastern Bible College, my M.Div. from Biblical Seminary (where I studied under Mr. Tom Taylor), and my Ph.D. from Drew FirefoxScreenSnapz679University (my dissertation was on John Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit).  By God’s grace, I have written several books:  DocTALK (a survey of all ten areas of Christian faith); DocWALK (how do we apply these truths to everyday life?); The Other Side of the Good News: Confronting Contemporary Challenges to Jesus’ Teaching on Hell; Heaven: Thinking Now about Forever; When Temptation Strikes: Gaining Victory Over Sin; Whatever Happened to Heresy?; Farewell, Rob Bell; and Saved: Rescued from God, by God, and for God (forthcoming).  A wide range of doctrinal topics is available for consideration.

My Vision:  Such a weekend conference could take the following form:FirefoxScreenSnapz680
Friday night full session, Saturday morning full session, Saturday lunch for those who have read ____ (a key book could be chosen to discuss over lunch), Saturday evening full session, Sunday Sunday School full session, Family Bible Hour full session. Total of five full sessions.

Interested?  I’d love to talk with you about the possibility of hosting a “Theology Matters” conference in your church.  Call me at: 803-201-9745.





This is from Ann Voskamp’s post today.  You must read it.  It is entitled “How to Focus in an Age of Distraction.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 17, 2014 in theology


Tags: , , ,

A Review of Rob Bell’s Newest Book (Part 1)


“I just finished reading Rob Bell’s new book, Dr. Dixon.  I don’t there is anything there that you will need to criticize.”  A former student wrote that to me.  I believe my former student was, how shall I say it?, well, w-r-o-n-g.

Rob Bell’s  What We Talk about When We Talk about God KeynoteScreenSnapz098troubles me on several levels. But first I should say what I appreciate about the book.

1.  I really like the colorful cover.  That’s about it.  Seriously, I believe Bell directs our attention to what theologians call “common grace,” the concept that God is active in His world in innumerable ways — and we need to become more aware of His presence in creation.  I believe he reminds us of the massive concept of God’s “immanence,” a $64 theological word meaning God’s nearness and closeness in creation.

The seven one-word chapter titles are “Hum,” “Open,” “Both,” “With,” “For,” “Ahead,” and “So.”  A few quotes from the book illustrate his conviction that God is with us and for us and ahead of us.  And we need to become more aware of His pervasive presence in creation.  He writes,

“I sometimes wonder if it’s as simple as saying yes, over and over and over again, a thousand times a day.  It’s not a complicated prayer, less about the words than about the openness of your heart, your willingness to consider that there may be untold power and strength and spirit right here, right now, as close as your next breath.  This isn’t about the same old message of making something happen; it’s about waking up to that which is already happening, all around you all the time, in and through and over you, trusting that God is with us and for us and ahead of us.” (210-211)

He talks about surfing with a guy who was an alcoholic atheist and he got sober and found God in the process.  He looked around and said to Bell, “And now I see God everywhere.”  Bell writes,  “Now that’s what I’m talking about.” (211)

At the end of the book Bell has some expressions and phrases and sentences that he thoughtOPRAH he just needed to write down and one of them is this: “breathe deeply and unfurl energies” (225)

(I wonder if Bell had a long conversation with Oprah and got, ummm, converted).

[to be continued]


Posted by on April 3, 2013 in theology


Tags: , , , ,

“WORKING OUT YOUR OWN FAITH: First Things First!” (Section 2)


I’ll be teaching an undergrad theology course this coming Fall semester and I’m developing five theological Workbooks which my students will fill in.  I’m referring to these Workbooks as “retro,” because they are in a lay-flat format and the questions will be answered in the Workbook with pen or pencil.

I thought you might find this first Workbook interesting.  The topic, “First Things First,” refers to the introductory issues in theology which must be considered before diving into the doctrine of the Bible, or the doctrine of God, etc.

What I will seek to do over the next few weeks is provide several of the 50 questions which make up this first workbook.

The Workbooks are designed to be used by those who are not students in my class, so they may be purchased here:


Many people resist “doctrine” because they don’t know what it is, don’t comprehend its importance, or have experienced it divorced from proper behavior.  When my family and I moved to Canada, we got skating and hockey lessons for our son (who was 10 at the time).  He did okay, but was a bit small for his age.  So the coach often just told him to go skate into the opposing team’s players!  Someone has defined hockey as a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept!  That’s kind of true in the Christian life, isn’t it?  Let’s think about the relationship between doctrine and behavior.

7. The term “doctrine” (didaskalia) is used in the following Scriptures:  I Timothy 1:10; 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9 and 2:1.  Write out five specific truths you learn from those five texts:

8. Listen to my message entitled “Doctrine: What Is It Good For?” found on our website or on my blog at Take a few notes below on the acrostic D-O-C-T-R-I-N-E discussed in the message . . .
















9.  Why do you think many believers in Jesus don’t grow?  Carefully look over the following text from Hebrews 5 and write out several conclusions you draw from this passage to answer that question:

10.  Let’s invest some time in thinking about the relationship between BELIEF and BEHAVIOR.  We often believe far more than we behave, don’t we?  Please unit-read the book of Jonah and check this box when you have done so:

11.  Complete the following chart, writing out Jonah’s orthodox (= “correct”) statements and his heterodox (“other than orthodox”) behavior:

12.  Someone has said that we Christians “owe it to the world to be supernaturally joyful!”  What verses in Scripture teach that our beliefs, our theology, ought to bring us JOY?  How do you know when your theological joy is gone?

13.  Analyze the passage below (from Heb. 12) and answer the questions given on the issue of good theology and the Christian life:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

(a) What are the imperatives (commands) in this passage?  List them below:

(a)  How is the Lord Jesus our example in running the race of faith?

(b)   How does considering His endurance help you in living out what you say you believe?


Tags: , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 510 other followers