Archives For Theology

Language of SalvationBook Review:  The Language of Salvation: Discovering the Riches of What it Means to be Saved, by Victor Kuligin

While leading a weekly Bible study in Namibia, Victor Kuligan saw that Paul’s letter to the Romans described salvation in rich, multi-faceted ways often missed in the modern church. Out of that conviction, he has given to us this marvelous little book, The Language of Salvation, outlining 13 different facets of the jewel that we call salvation.

Most, if not all, of the concepts that the author outlines will not be new to any knowledgeable evangelical, but Kuligan has provided a fresh look at the doctrines related to salvation by asking the reader to see them as all being of one piece. Thus, he would call us away from seeing salvation primarily in terms of, for example, the biological language of regeneration, the courtroom language of justification, or the family language of adoption. Instead, he wants us to hold all of these portrayals of salvation together in order to see the riches that God has given us in Christ.

While the book is doctrinal in nature, Kuligin seeks to be…

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Just about everyone has an opinion about God. Right now, there are about 7 Billion people on the plant, with 1.2 Billion of them being Catholics and 800 million protestant Christians. That’s alot of people with opinions about God. For better or worse, what we think about God shapes how we interact with others, what we think about ourselves, and ultimately our worldview.

This is true across the board – whether you follow God, don’t believe in Him, hate Him, or believe in him but choose not to follow what He says. How we live our lives is directly tied into what we think about when we hear the word “God.” All the questions and comments that flood into our heads when this word is spoken tells us a lot about our Theology. Or to put it more pointedly: Everyone who has an opinion of what God is like is a Theologian.

If you do a simple google search for ‘theology’, the first thing that pops up is this:

the·ol·o·gy, (THēˈäləjē/)
noun: theology
▪ the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
▪ religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.

While you may not picture yourself…

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Families Touched by Suicide

Yesterday I listened to callers on a local radio talk show discuss whether or not suicide was an unpardonable sin. (Whether or not a person can commit suicide and still go to heaven) Its always interesting to me how a subject like this can spark heated discussion among people who ordinarily wouldn’t discuss spiritual things.  Its also interesting to discover how diverse the range of opinions is on the subject.

The discussion left me feeling sad for families who have been touched by suicide. I can only imagine (as displayed by the call-in discussion) how many unresolved questions must linger in their minds.

Here are a few thoughts that will hopefully bring encouragement and add clarity to the conversation:

1)   The test of eternal life is not whether or not a person takes their life, but whether or not they have received Christ’s life. No person will enter Heaven because of a good life or great deeds. Rather, eternal life comes by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9).

2)   The issue of suicide is serious because it deals with the sanctity of life (Genesis 1:26). Life is a precious gift of…

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Biblical Portraits of CreationWhile perhaps understandable, it is also unfortunate that many Christians and churches only take on the biblical topic of Creation for the purpose of debating the relationship between the Genesis account and scientific views of origins. The result of that focus is that many Christians lack an awareness of the subject of creation as a source of worship of the Creator, as well as a foundation for understanding much of God’s work in redeeming us and ultimately making all things new. In Biblical Portraits of Creation, Walter Kaiser and Dorington Little seek to correct that deficiency with a series of short essays glorifying our Creator God.

Anyone opening this book looking for a technical response to challenges from evolutionists or higher critics will be largely disappointed. For the most part, these short pieces ignore that ongoing argument and instead focus on various texts dealing with Creation that inspire the reader to worship God and appreciate His work of Creation and all that it entails. Only two of the 19 chapters give primary focus to the early chapters of Genesis. Others focus on texts that deal with Creation…

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Choices

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Navigate: Understanding & Pursuing God’s Will.”

The Tight Rope Theory

This teaching declares God’s will is like a tight rope where one wrong move will ruin your life and require you to start all over again -or worse, be eternally out of God’s will.  This view assumes God is powerless to work through the faults of man.

The tight rope theory has a difficult time explaining how Moses could lead the children of Israel out of Egypt with first-degree murder on his record (Exodus 2:11-12) or how Peter could preach powerfully at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) when months earlier Jesus rebuked him and called Him Satan. (Matthew 16:23)   It seems God is not wringing His hands worried that imperfect men will mess up His will.

The Perfect Will of God Theory

Another theory describes a state of being where everything magically lines up to put you in God’s perfect will.  (Of course this implies that God also has an imperfect will -which sounds really strange for God.)  “Those who acceptable to God,…

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He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18 KJV

Throughout the New Testament, there is a subtle distinction between the headship of Christ and the lordship of Jesus.

The headship of Christ virtually always has in view Christ’s relationship with His body (Eph. 1:22–23; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19). The lordship of Christ virtually always has in view His relationship with His individual disciples (Matt. 7:21–22; Luke 6:46; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9, 13; 1 Cor. 6:17).

What lordship is to the individual, headship is to the church. Headship and lordship are two dimensions of the same thing. Headship is lordship worked out in the corporate life of God’s people.

A believer may truly submit to the lordship of Jesus in his or her personal life. He may obey what he understands in the Bible. She may pray fervently. He may live self-sacrificially. Yet at the same time, these people may know nothing about shared minis-…

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Father Son Other OneGod’s Spirit Lives in You. 

Do you believe it? What’s more, are you experiencing His power in your life?

All too often we settle for merely learning about God rather than experiencing the present reality of His Spirit. But you have access to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit right now and if you want to live out your Christian faith with vibrancy and authenticity, it is essential that you get to know Him.

Father, Son, and the Other One addresses the vital importance of the Holy Spirit in your life and shows you how to experience His presence as a transforming, empowering reality.

If you have ever wondered if the Christian faith is more than mere creeds, doctrines and denominations, or if you long to know that the Jesus of history still lives and dwells in you by the Spirit of God, or if you struggle to tap into God’s presence as a transforming, empowering reality, this book is for you.

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The Goodness of God In Bad DecisionsThe results of a recent survey by LifeWay Research and Bible Studies for Life found nearly half of Americans (47%) agree they are dealing with the consequences of a bad decision on some level. Think about that. Nearly one out of two people you will see on the street, at work, in the park, or at church are dealing with issues related to a bad choice. That is significant, and should guide our thinking as we engage the people around us.

It seems people are constantly running up against the consequences of bad decisions. Try as we might, some things just do not work out. We decide to buy a car only to have something in the engine blow up three weeks later. We search and search for the best house only to have the water heater spring a leak two days after closing. (How much did we pay that home inspector, anyway?) It seems our decisions frequently yield unintended results.

Fixing problems after the fact can be difficult enough, but what happens when our bad decision involves God’s will? Specifically, what happens when we are overtly disobedient…

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The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country.

The court voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and remand the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Proposition 8 case, holding that California’s Proposition 8 defenders didn’t have standing. The Defense of Marriage Act decision, meanwhile, used rather sweeping language about equal protection and human dignity as they apply to the recognition of same-sex unions.

But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the Gospel?

In one sense, nothing. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is calling the cosmos toward His Kingdom, and He will ultimately be Lord indeed. Regardless of what happens with marriage, the Gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That’s why it rocketed out of the first century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which were hardly Mayberry.

In another sense, though, the marginalization of conjugal marriage in American culture has profound implications…

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QuestionsDo my questions have any bearing, any weight, on the core of orthodox Christianity?

In my book, If God Disappears, I talk about my experiences traversing a massive and very steep glacier. It took 12 hours to carve out hand and foot holds to go up. It took 5 minutes of glissading to come back down. Did my boots and gloves make any difference to that glacier while I was climbing up? And, did my boots make any difference on the way down? No. Why not? That glacier very well could have been on that steep mountain side for thousands of years. It was immensely thick and mainly consisted of very hard packed snow turned to ice. What’s more, the glacier stretched for 2 miles. My presence no more impacted that glacier than an ant does while walking up and down the bark of the massive 125-year-old pine tree in my front yard.

Again, do my questions have any bearing, any weight, on the core of orthodox Christianity? No. Why not? By definition, the core of orthodox Christianity was established nearly two thousand years ago. It was intensely forged and mainly consists of a…

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DigitalThe Digital Age is upon us. In the span of less than three decades, we have redefined the way humans communicate, entertain, inform, research, create and connect — and what we know now is only a hint of what is to come. But the greatest concern of the church is not a technological imperative, but a Gospel imperative.

The digital world did not exist a generation ago, and now it is a fundamental fact of life. The world spawned by the personal computer, the Internet, social media and the smart phone now constitutes the greatest arena of public discussion and debate the world has ever known.

Leaders who talk about the real world as opposed to the digital world are making a mistake, a category error. While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way.

Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web and on the smart phone in your pocket. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated faster than…

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John 3-16By Mark Coppenger

Like the fellow who thought he’d be crossing visible longitude lines on his ocean voyage to Europe, some may think that the chapter and verse divisions were on the sheet when apostles such as John (or psalmists such as David) wrote down Scripture.

But no, they wrote letters and poetry and Gospels and other history without numbering. Those markers were added centuries later. Indeed, when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:6 in Mark 12:26, He simply located it in “in the passage about the burning bush.” Neither the “12:26” nor the “3:6” were yet in place.

To make a long story short, biblical scholars were making divisions of one sort or another in the centuries following the books’ original composition, but it wasn’t until the early 1200s that we got our current chapter setup, thanks to Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. As for the verses, Jewish scribes had already done work on the Old Testament around the year 900, and their work was wedded to Langton’s. But the church had to wait another 300 years for its New Testament breakdown, performed by a French-born printer, Robert Estienne or…

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