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Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . Faith!

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!

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2020 in beliefs

 

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Five Truths You Need to Believe about . . . An Introduction to the Series

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?

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2020 in beliefs

 

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Uploaded Video for My Kirkland Students — Part 2 Christology

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.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2020 in beliefs

 

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Uploaded Video on Christology for Kirkland Students – Part 1

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 first video is only 11 minutes long. Let me know what you think! Dr. D.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2020 in beliefs

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 11: Man (Final Series Post)

Friends: I goofed. Somehow I forgot about the area of Christian theology that deals with human beings. Anthropology, the study of man, asks a variety of questions about man’s make-up: does man have an immortal soul? What does it mean to be made “in the image of God”? Should we believe in capital punishment [WHAT?! Where did that question come from?!], etc.

These posts were inspired by my thinking about the books from the late Paul Little who wrote Know WHAT You Believe and Know WHY You Believe. We’ve been asking not WHAT or WHY, but IF. Do we really believe what we say we believe?

When it comes to the issue of man, the Bible has much to say about this aspect of “the glory of God” (I Cor. 11:7). God made man “in His image,” a description found several times in the Scriptures. Here’s a brief chart I’ve put together:

Today’s Challenge: IF I believe that men and women are made in the image of God, I will treat them with respect. I will also pray for opportunities to share the gospel with others, recognizing that every person will spend eternity either in fellowship with God or separated from Him.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 10: The End Times

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?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2020 in beliefs

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 9: The Holy Spirit

The Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit is left to the end of the creed.

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:

1. Do you ever pray directly to Him? Do you ask Him to bring conviction of sin to those you love who are outside of Christ?

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.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2020 in beliefs

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 8: The Bible

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.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in beliefs

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 5: Jesus Christ

Why do Christians bother “evangelizing”? Why do Jesus-followers go to the trouble of learning difficult foreign languages, leave the comforts of Western society, and take the gospel to people of other cultures? Why do churches hold services every week for an hour or more and talk about the Bible? The answer to these questions is — or ought to be — the Lord Jesus Christ! HE is the reason we tell others about the salvation we have been privileged to enjoy. HE is the reason Christians commit themselves to doing hard work in difficult situations — and sometimes pay with their very lives. If HE is not who He claimed to be, we are, according to the Apostle Paul, worthy of the world’s pity (I Cor. 15).

These posts are asking the question not WHAT do we believe or WHY do we believe, but IF we believe. Like the orthodox-sounding Jonah we may say we believe certain things, but contradict our claims with our lives. IF I believe in Jesus Christ, if I believe He is the only Savior, I will back up my belief by certain actions.

And part of our challenge as Jesus-followers is presenting the truth about Who He is. His claims about Himself force people to come to a decision, to make a choice. No one enjoys being forced to make a choice. But that’s the reality — and sometimes we Christians get bashed for presenting His claims. C.S. Lewis hit the nail on the head when he wrote —

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Today’s Challenge: Let’s stop apologizing for our Christian faith. IF we truly believe, we will look for opportunities to speak about the real Jesus to others. Are you and I praying for such opportunities?

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2020 in Jesus Christ

 

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A Theological Check-Up: Do You Really Believe? Part 3: Sin

The inspiration for these posts is my appreciation of Paul Little’s books Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe. Those are very helpful works — especially to new Jesus-followers.

My question for those of us who’ve been in this thing called Christianity for a while is this: As important as the WHAT and the WHY are in Christian belief, the issue really is IF we truly believe. IF we believe what we say we believe, certain behaviors ought to follow. “Faith without works is dead,” says the Apostle James. And the last thing the world needs to see is a dead Christianity!

What about the doctrine of SIN? Do we really believe what the Bible teaches about SIN? That we are born in sin (Ps. 51:5) and become quite proficient in practicing SIN. Do we agree that SIN is repugnant to God and that the only remedy to our SIN was the substitutionary death of the Son of God for us?

In speaking of “original sin” (meaning the original rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden), Chesterton claimed original sin to be ‘the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved’. Sin was a fact, ‘a fact as practical as potatoes.’”

How easy it is to minimize our sin, to euphemize our rebellion, to excuse our evil. I heard of a preacher who made a reference to the list known as “the seven deadly sins.” He said that many asked him after church for the list! I understand the following ad was in the Holland, Michigan, Evening Sentinel: “Wanted — Man or woman for part-time cleaning. Must be able to recognize dirt.” The Bible helps us recognize the dirt in our lives.

SIN is real — and often preceded by temptation. In fact, I wrote a book entitled When Temptation Strikes: Gaining Victory Over Sin. I agree with Stephen Brown who said, “Sin is not what you want to do but can’t; it is what you should not do because it will hurt you and it will hurt you bad.”

If we are serious about SIN, then we will follow the biblical prescription of repentance and confession! And we will not only hate sin, but will consciously be in the process of killing sin. Colossians 3:5 says: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” And we will agree with Sam Milolaski that “Unless God is angry with sin, let us put a bullet in our collective brain, for the universe is mad.”

Today’s Challenge: When was the last time you confessed known SIN? Aren’t we to confess our sins daily? Write out a prayer of confession, admitting both what you’ve done or thought and what you’ve not done or thought.

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2020 in theology

 

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