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If Paul Had Preached Joel Osteen’s Message at Mars Hill . . .

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Joel Osteen

 

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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 2 Part 2)

Going to Korea!  (I wonder if they will use  me in their peace talks?!).  I get to teach the book of Galatians to undergrads at the Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island (see red circle below)!

Working our way through this six-chapter letter, we have noticed the first theme in chapter two, Paul’s sense of accountability to leadership (vv. 1-10).

Let’s now see a second theme: We should oppose any compromise of the gospel!  We get Paul’s report of his confrontation with Cephas [why does Paul refer to Peter with that name?)].  Paul “opposed him to his face”!  What was Cephas’ sin?

The answer is that he was compromising the gospel by not eating with Gentile believers!  Cephas was unduly influenced by some in the “circumcision group” and other Jews (including Barnabas) were “led astray” (v. 13).

This compromise led to “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (v. 14).  The primary point is that of justification.  Is one justified by faith or by the works of the law (v. 16)?

The law brings DEATH (vv. 19-20), but Christ brings LIFE (v. 20).  Trying to be justified by keeping the law means that one “sets aside the grace of God” — and that is something no missionary should ever do!

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Galatians

 

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Some of My Favorite Quotes: J.I. Packer on the New Gospel

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2018 in gospel

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (choices)

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Calvin’s dad certainly has a point, doesn’t he? In his book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Barry Schwartz studies the many choices we have in America and says, “”Autonomy and Freedom of Choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 7.03.22 AM

What do you think?  Are more choices always good?  Should we who follow Christ be surprised that a choice-flooded culture resents our claiming Jesus as the only Savior?  {by the way, I prefer Extra Chunky Peanut Butter!}

 

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in choices

 

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My Response to Nietzsche’s Comment . . .

My friend John, who occasionally comments on my blog and, by his own admission, is not a follower of Jesus, contributed this quote. If you are a believer, how would you respond?

“If the Christian dogmas of a revengeful God, Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 7.28.30 AMuniversal sinfulness, election by divine grace and the danger of eternal damnation were true, it would be a sign of weak-mindedness and lack of character not to become a priest, apostle or hermit and, in fear and trembling, to work solely on one’s own salvation; it Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 6.45.58 PMwould be senseless to lose sight of ones eternal advantage for the sake of temporal comfort. If we may assume that these things are at any rate believed true, then the everyday Christian cuts a miserable figure; he is a man who really cannot count to three, and who precisely on account of his spiritual imbecility does not deserve to be punished so harshly as Christianity promises to punish him.”

from Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human, s.116, R.J. Hollingdale transl.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Nietzsche

 

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Weasels and Wimpy Christians! (time for a good quote)

In The World According to God, Greg Johnson writes: “Today it’s not unthinkable that an Evangelical scholar might say something like this:

‘For me personally, from my limited perspective, I think it would appear to me, if I’m not mistaken about this, that there’s one primary Savior in the Bible, at least according to my faith tradition, within my circle of meaning, assuming a pre-modern metanarrative in a faith-based discourse, FirefoxScreenSnapz492as we tend to do, I think.’

Johnson responds: “WEASEL! There’s a difference between being aware of your limitations and being a coward. We used to say, ‘Jesus is the only Savior.’ It’s a clear, concise statement, powerful in its simplicity. Besides, GOD says so!

Questions:

1.  We sometimes use the expression “weasel words” referring to “words or phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged. A more formal term is equivocation.” (friendly neighborhood Wikipedia).  What are some “weasel words” in theology, do you think?

KeynoteScreenSnapz1002.  One preacher said, “When I share the gospel, I worry about what people will think about me, and I worry about what people will think about Jesus.  But mostly, I worry about what people will think of me.”  The Bible says that the fear of man brings a snare.  In our postmodern culture, how have Christians capitulated to the relativistic spirit of this age in whittling down the gospel message to only peace and happiness in Jesus?

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in relativism

 

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Why Believe? (Part 1)

I met my Canadian friend John FirefoxScreenSnapz072while playing online chess.  I have a number of games going — and I lose most of them — but it’s a great way to meet new people.  Occasionally, I get to share a bit of the Good News about Jesus with them.

This is not John’s picture to the right.  But he is a gentleman in his 80’s and comments regularly on my blog.  (You can read his comments if you wish — they are found at the end of several of my blog posts).

John argues against the Christian idea of God, what the Bible has to say about salvation, and, essentially, why we should be religious at all.

Recently John wrote: “In your first reply you stated that we are all sinners and therefore we need a Savior. This has been said so often by so many people nobody seems to question this any more. Is this not also along the line of selfishly trying to make our guilt to be carried by someone else? Shouldn’t we rather be thought that our actions (sins ??) are our own and take responsibility for them, regardless of possible punishments ? Wouldn’t you agree that humanity would be better off with this kind of thinking?”

How would you answer John?  (I’ll post my response in a few days).

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in online chess

 

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Students’ Translating the Good News of Jesus: Example #3

Friends:

One of my great privileges is teaching theology at Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry.  In this semester’s theology class, one of the assignments for my students was to put the Good News about Jesus in their own words, avoiding Christian jargon.  They are then supposed to share that paragraph with one face-to-face friend and also with one online friend.

I’ll be posting some of these paragraphs over the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the third one.  What do you think?

God originally designed a plan that would bring Him great joy; a plan which involved creating a perfect world which He would run in relationship with humans. God created the world as an organic system that would function perfectly if the humans would merely follow God’s leading. Unfortunately, humans disregarded God’s input and tried running the world differently; a way they thought was best. Their foolish and arrogant choice to rebel caused immediate consequences; the breakdown of the system, separation between mankind and God, and pain instead of love. God has to punish disobedience because it hurts Him, it hurts the system and it hurts other humans. The system is still broken today because humans are unable to perfectly follow God and fix the system. This means that our separation to God will continue indefinitely, with each person eventually spending eternity in isolation. God wants to spend eternity with us, though, so He devised a rescue plan. God decided to came to earth as a human, perfectly follow the instructions for right living, and restore the relationship humans can have with Him. Jesus was that person. He lived a perfect life on earth, died on a cross to take our punishment, was raised from the dead three days later, and now teaches us how to follow God so we fix the world that we broke. The world isn’t perfect yet, but Jesus promises that one day it will be. He also promises that God will forgive us if we acknowledge our disobedience, ask Him for forgiveness and to choose Jesus as our boss, savior and God.

Questions:

1.  What evidences do you see of this world’s brokenness?

2.  How does this presentation of the Good News view the after-life?

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in jargon

 

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A Recent Sermon on the Topic “SAVED!”

FirefoxScreenSnapz132Here’s a sermon I preached last week in a small church in Aiken, SC.  The series’ title is “Saved!  Rescued from God, by God, and for God.”  Comments welcome.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in gospel

 

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WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT TO HAVE A COUPLE OF BLANKS?

My wife and I are avid Scrabble players.  We’re both teachers.  She’s an English teacher and I’m a graduate professor.  When we play Scrabble, we both kind of cheat (“Just checking my email, Dear!”).  We like the game so much that we actually named our dog Scrabble!

Did you read the story about the young man who was playing in the World Championship of Scrabble Tournament?  See his story here.

Apparently, this young man palmed two blank tiles, which would be a GREAT ADVANTAGE in forming words!  He was caught — and disqualified.

It would be great in life to have two blank tiles, wouldn’t it?  You could make them anything you want to.

I think the gospel is kind of like getting a whole bunch of blank tiles that God can use in our lives.  What do you think?

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in gospel

 

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