Planned Articles and a Book Announcement


(jump to the book announcement)

As I’m sure some of you have noticed…

The theological papers have come to a temporary halt. I explained why to a reader a few days ago. I have been meaning to explain my absence to the rest of you, and apologize for not doing so sooner.

Due to my schedule of work, school, and personal life, I am not able to produce unique content for this website outside of what I write for my school assignments. My fall semester ended in the middle of December 2011, we closed the year with a closer look at the Significance of Christmas, and then things seemed to come to an abrupt halt. This was due to a large work project (thankful for this!) that came my way, and then school starting up again just last Monday. So, that should explain to you my absence and why you have not had any juicy theological topics to chew on.

What does this mean for this Winter/Spring?

Good question. Glad you asked 🙂

In the next seven weeks (Winter) there are at least three papers that I will publish here:

  • Paul’s Journey to Rome – I will be working on this paper for the next seven week’s. Details will come as I develop my research on the topic.
  • The Christology Debate: What does it mean that Christ “emptied himself” in the incarnation?  Did he lay aside certain attributes of deity in order to become human, or did he retain all attributes of deity while in human flesh?
  • The Providence Debate: In the realm of God’s providence, there are numerous variables and nuanced positions.  Consider the two broader views—the Arminian and the Calvinist views—and evaluate the merits of each as to whether or not there might be alternatives views that incorporate both perspectives.  Remember that this debate has less to do with the soteriological issues and more to do with God’s control over the happenings that occur in the world in which humans live and make daily choices.

That covers the my Winter classes (a study on Acts and Theology 350). Spring brings with it two new classes, Theology of Missions, and History of Life. I expect to have a few projects from the Missions class that will be published here and am not sure what to expect from the latter class.

A Super Secret Project not so Secret Any Longer!

On Friday I published a post with a few pictures hinting at something I am working on. I am here to tell you that I am going to take the theological papers that I published last year and put them into one binding, electronic, of course, and maybe print depending on the response I receive this year. With the Apple event last week came the software to create and publish interactive books in the iBook store. That announcement gave me a solid kick prompted me to start the project of publishing my articles in a more “official” manner this year.

The working title is: Theological Topics for Every Christian to Think About: A Collection of Essays.

As of now it will contain all of the theological articles published here last year. The iBook edition will contain much more than the text. You will find images (of important figures behind the theological issues), videos (of men wiser than myself expanding the theological topic at hand), quizzes (to help you review the theological topic), and a complete glossary containing terms and definitions (obviously). I will also be editing and updating each essay as well as providing in-text access to the numerous scriptural references within the essays. My hope would also be to include several other authors in the project.

I will also work on publishing a Kindle edition and a generic epub edition for those of you who do not yet own an iPad or iPhone.

Those are all of the details I have now, or at least have thought through enough to share with you. As I continue working on this I will update you with screenshots and maybe videos so that you can see what to expect (with the iBook version). I hope that this will prompt you to buy an iPad and also excite you all over again about studying these and other theological and biblical topics. 

Your help is requested but not required

There are a few ways you can help. 1) I do not have anything lined up just yet, but in a few weeks I may have a place setup for you to donate to this project (this might be at Kickstarter, but it may be my own creation as-well). 2) If you would like to be kept in the loop in a more direct way about this project please take a moment to complete the short form below. 3) Finally, if you have a network of friends and family that would like to be kept in the loop of this project, please share it with them!!

The Significance of Christmas – The Time in History


(This post only requires 6 minutes of your day.)

Gaius Julius Caesar AugustsTo begin our study I want to take you to the book of Luke. Luke, as you may or may not know, was not an apostle, but was a close friend of the Apostle Paul and traveled with him on some of his missionary journeys. He was also a physician and somewhat of a historian, as can be seen in The Gospel According to Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles (his historical account of the first century church). I believe you will find Luke to be a gifted writer, one who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was able to convey complicated historical accounts in simple language that requires little study to fully grasp. 

An example of this is found in chapter two of his gospel, and specifically verses 1-7:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7 ESV).

In these seven short verses Luke recounts the event of God becoming flesh. An event that has not been outdone by any other event in the history of man. And Luke lays it out so simply for us.

Let’s begin with verse one. First, “in those days” is a reference to 1:1-80. This is to say, “during this time.” So around the time that John the Baptist was born (v. 57), and Mary is visited by Gabriel (vv. 26-38) to learn that she will carry her Savior (1:47), “a decree went from Caesar Augustus” (2:1). Who is this Caesar Augustus?

This is Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, and arguably the most successful Roman Emperor in the history of the empire. You may also know him as Octavian. His birth name was Gaius Octavius and he was the grand nephew of Julius Caesar. Through the last will and living testament of Julius Caesar, Octavian is made emperor, and at the age of 18 years old he becomes the sole emperor of the entire Roman Empire. This is 31 B.C.[1]

Octavian is most notably known for “a time of peace and extensive architectural achievements”.[2] He said of himself that, “he had found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble”[3]. During his reign he built highways fit for travel and commerce. These roads connected cities within the Roman Empire together and led to the city of Rome so that goods could travel in and out of the city creating a vast network of trade. He also reformed the Roman system of taxation.

As he expanded the empire and continued with building projects and massive reform across the Roman world, it became necessary to have a more organized system to assess the amount of tax countries needed to pay towards the Roman Treasury.[4] This is the reason for the “decree” mentioned in verse one of our text. Caesar Augustus, Octavian, needed an “official counting and registration of citizens [as well as] a property evaluation for tax purposes”[5].

In verse two Luke gives us more detail which helps us to narrow down the time in which this census took place. For the sake of time I will not delve too deeply here, but will say that Luke’s mention of Quirinius being the governor of Syria helps us to place the time of Christ’s birth at around 7-6 B.C.[6]

We now come to verse three which states, “And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” We have established why this registration was taking place, when this registration took place, and have even had the opportunity to scratch the surface of who Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus was. With all of this learned, why does Luke tell us that each went to his own town to be registered?

This statement serves a twofold purpose. First, it speaks to how Augustus ruled his Empire. “The genuineness of the statement that everyone had to go into his own city to be enrolled has also been strikingly confirmed. It was a characteristic feature of August’s action towards a subject people that he gave every consideration to their national customs”.[7] This registration of the entire Roman world did not require everyone to return to their town of ancestry. This travel was something that the Jews felt was necessary, which Caesar allowed, and is why we find Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem in verse four (more on this next week).

The second and most important purpose verse three serves is to show us that Caesar was “an instrument in the all-guiding hand of God”[8]. In Micah 5:2 we find a prophesy stating that out of Bethlehem will come one who will be ruler over Israel. This is a prophesy fulfilled and facilitated by the actions of Caesar Augustus calling for a registration for the purpose of taxes. These actions are ultimately controlled by God and allowed by God for his will. This is a point that cannot be missed.

Behind all of the Roman expansion and the success of Octavian in establishing a time of peace in the Empire, God was moving and working. God, knowing all things, knew that the time was now to place his Son in the midst of his creation. The world was never more ripe to receive the Gospel and spread it to the ends of the earth and through the ages. It all started with this registration, and with Joseph and Mary traveling to the town of Bethlehem to do as they were told by Rome and to obey the direction and leading of God.

Focus.

This Christmas season, I want to implore you to take time away from family and shopping to think about the sovereign hand of God working in the midst of his creation to accomplish his will. Especially think of this in the context of Luke 2:1-7 and understand how actively involved God was in moving Caesar to call for a census that would literally drive Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem.

Next week we will get into the significance of Bethlehem and why it is so crucial that Jesus was born there. Be sure to subscribe below so you don’t miss it. Also, add a comment below letting me know that you stopped by and read this. I hope that this first post of our Christmas series was beneficial to you and most of all that it has helped you to understand more fully the Significance of Christmas.
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How are we to apply 1 Corinthians 7:25-28 today?


Good evening. You will not typically read an article here in the evening hours, but in an effort to be spontaneous I thought I would go ahead and publish something tonight anyways. Consider it a bonus post 🙂 
1 Corinthians 7:25-28
 
The command Paul gives to the unmarried virgins in the Corinthian church is to “remain as you are…Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife” (vv. 26, 27, NIV). This command must be understood within the context (as with any passage). In verse 9, speaking to the unmarried and widows, Paul states, “if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Paul’s main point in this section of Scripture (7:1-35) seems to carry with it a theme, “God’s commands is what counts…each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to…time is short…this world in its present form is passing away…be free from concern” (vv. 19, 24, 29, 31, 32). In summary, and in my own words, “while you are here in this life and on this earth, focus on God.”
 
But, what are we to make of this command to the virgins to remain as they are? How are we to apply this? There is no doubt that although this is not an explicit command from the Lord (v. 25), it is sound advice through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s concern at his time of writing, and to us today, is that we are able to focus on the Lord, keep his commands, and live according to how we are each called to live. For some, this means marriage, for others this means remaining a virgin (v. 7). Paul recognized that marriage would cause hardship to the husband and wife (v. 28). Times of trouble, persecution, and other hardship are difficult enough as a single person, but they are much greater when married, and even more so when children come along. 
 
With all of that in mind, as well as the context of our passage (vv. 25-28), I believe it is safe to apply this command, or advice, entirely to our world today (directly transferable). Virgins, remain as you are unless you are burning with passion or believe that you were called to marry (given the gift to marry, v. 7). If you do marry, you are not sinning (v. 28), but will need to be prepared to face hardship (v. 28) and allow the troubles that come along to draw you closer to the Lord.
 
What are your thoughts on this passage? Do you agree with my conclusion?

Why the Gift of Tongues is Not an Active Ministry in Today’s Church


Why the Gift of Tongues is not an Active Ministry in Today's Church

A large part of putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. With this indwelling comes a spiritual gift to each believer to use for the building up of the church.

Spiritual gifts are gifts of God given to those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and who have received the gift of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul instructs the purpose of gifts quite clearly: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12, ESV). As members of His body He equips us with gifts (1 Cor. 12:6) which we are then empowered to use, by the Holy Spirit (12:11), so that we are able to “[build] up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).

Something that may be confused with spiritual gifts are the fruit of the Spirit. While both

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areas are given by and empowered by the same source (1 Cor. 12:6, 11; Gal. 5:18) there is a distinct difference. Spiritual gifts are given on an individual basis: “But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another” (1 Cor. 7:7). The fruit of the Spirit is how those who have put their faith in Christ are able to live (Gal. 5:22-24), as opposed to those who have not (vv. 19-21).

With that being said, one’s spiritual maturity is not determined by having and using a spiritual gift. Spiritual gifts are for ministering and building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12). But, as stated in Galatians 5:24, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Fruit of the Spirit is a continual walk, spiritual gifts are used at specific times for specific purposes.

There is one gift that seems to draw the most attention. The gift of tongues is, “Speak[ing] not to men but to God…utter[ing] mysteries in the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:2). The purpose of this gift is twofold. First, if the one in possession of such a gift is able to interpret what he says, he must use it as a witness to unbelievers (v. 21) or, in order to, minister to a body of believers (vv. 26-27). Second, one can use this gift to offer such tongues to the Lord as prayers and worship (vv. 14-17).

Baptism in the Holy Spirit can be associated with speaking in tongues. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the indwelling of the Spirit, as promised by Christ (Acts 1:5), to all those who put their faith in Him (15:7-9).

Is speaking in tongues the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit? No. While there are instances recorded in scripture of after receiving the Holy Spirit individuals speak in tongues (Acts 2:4; 10:44-48), it is important to remember that tongues are a spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:10) and are given as directed by God (vv. 4-7).

Another question is whether or not tongues are still valid today. The positive group, made up of Pentecostals and most charismatics, hold that tongues are for everyone as a result of baptism in the Spirit, and as such should be sought out. The negative group “[asserts] that the ‘perfect’ in 1 Corinthians 13:10 (KJV) meant the canon, and therefore at the close of the canon tongues ‘ceased in and of themselves.”[1]

This author sides with the negative camp but disagrees with their assertion that the “perfect” represents the close of the canon. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul states that prophesies and knowledge will “pass away” and tongues will “cease.” The Greek verb used for prophesies and knowledge is “be abolished”, meaning that something will put an end to them.[2] For tongues, the Greek verb used means that they will cease by themselves, and since the “perfect,” which will put an end to prophesies and knowledge in verse ten, does not put an end to tongues, it should be understood that they are not present to be abolished by the “perfect.”[3]

Since we now have God’s Word delivered to us in it’s complete, inerrant, and inspired form (Rev. 22:18-19), there is no longer a need for the use of tongues. So then, what is the “perfect” spoken of? In light of 1 Corinthians 13:9 it must be when we are given full knowledge and understanding, which is not until we see our Lord face to face in eternity (v. 4).

Considering the final paragraphs examining the gift of tongues it is appropriate to conclude by restating the purpose of spiritual gifts: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).

What is the point of ‘Points to Remember’ and Questions to Promote Discussion and Bible Study?’ 

Points to Remember

  • Spiritual gifts are given to each believer to use for the building up of the church.
  • Spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are given by and empowered by the same source (the Spirit) but are not the same (see question #1 below).
  • Since we now have God’s Word delivered to us in it’s complete, inerrant, and inspired form (Rev. 22:18-19), there is no longer a need for the use of tongues.

Questions to Promote Discussion and Bible Study

(feel free to share your answers (and questions!) in the comments below)

  1. What is the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual gifts? What verses support your view?
  2. What are the two original purposes of the gift of speaking in tongues?
  3. What is baptism in the Holy Spirit? Is speaking in tongues the sign of baptism in the Holy Spirit?
  4. Do you believe that tongues are still in use today? Please explain why or why not with Scripture as your source.

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What Does the Bible Say about Women in Ministry?


St. Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens (1615)

The early church in the book of Acts gives churches and Christians today a framework of how Christ intended his church to function. Part of this includes two offices, elders and deacons, that are used to accomplish Kingdom work in local churches and the surrounding areas. Today, there is not so much confusion over what these offices are to do, but who is permitted to hold them.

The office of “elder” is fulfilled primarily through that of teaching, oversight of the flock, and sharing in the ministry of Christ.[1] The role of a deacon, or deaconess, is fulfilled by service. If the elder is an overseer and teacher, than a deacon is a doer. The deacons are those that do service within the church for the church, “they are to be practical servants (and not necessarily teachers).”[2]

The requirements for an elder can be found quite clearly in 1 Timothy 3:2-7: “Therefore an

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overseer must be above reproach…husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive…He must not be a recent convert…he must be well thought of by outsiders” (ESV). Likewise, the requirements for a deacon are found in the next passage: “Deacons…must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain…wives must be dignified…husband of one wife, managing their children and households well” (vv. 8, 11, 12).

In light of the role women may play in ministry, it is important to understand Biblically what was the case and to be careful to apply this to our current Church practice. First, a woman may not be an elder. Paul is quite clear that women are not permitted to teach men (2:12), and that an elder must be able to teach (3:2). These two verses quickly rule out women filling the role of an elder. Also, woman are not permitted to rule over men (2:12) and as an elder one is an overseer (3:2) that must care for God’s church (v. 5).

The office of deacon is different than an elder in qualifications, responsibilities, and in that women are permitted to fill this office. Although Paul states that a deacon is to be the husband of one wife (v. 12) he also records that there were women who filled this office by serving in the New Testament church during his time of ministry (specifically Phoebe who was “a servant of the church at Canchreae” (Rom 16:1)).

Some hold to the view that women are permitted to hold the office of elder and will reference Titus 2:3. What they fail to realize is that Paul states specifically, in verse four of Titus chapter two, that women are to teach “young women,” if they are going to teach. If Paul was permitting women to teach anyone of any age he would not have clarified his statement made in verse three. Some may also use Galatians 3:28 as a verse permitting woman to teach and be overseers. If they do use that verse for such a purpose they are grossly using it out of it’s context.

Others say that women should not be permitted to have any role in the church. There is simply no solid Biblical argument for such a view. Women played a large role in the ministry of Jesus (Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3), were present at his crucifixion (Luke 23:27, 49, 55-56), instructed by an angel after his resurrection (Luke 24:6-8), and were present as helpers in the early church (Acts 1:14; 2:17-18; 9:36-43; 21:8-9; Rom. 16).

As far as limitations on women outside of the church go, there are none. Women can and do hold positions of authority over men (specifically in the workplace). In such a case, the wise man (and woman) will heed Romans 13: “be subject to the governing authorities…those that exist have been instituted by God” (v. 1).

With all of this being said, women can, and do, play a very important role in the local church. They can raise questions to have theological issues clarified. They can have leadership roles in the teaching of younger woman and children, and can also have very important roles in the management (specifically administration responsibilities) of the local church.

As stated previously, Jesus used women in his ministry. As this is the case, and where Biblically permitted, the church of today should not keep women from playing active roles in their ministry.

Footnotes:

  • [1] Wallace, R.S. “Elder.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 369.
  • [2] Burge, G.M. “Deacon, Deaconess.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001), 320.

BibliographyBurge, G.M. “Deacon, Deaconess.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 320. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Wallace, R.S. “Elder.” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Elwell, A. Walter. 369. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2001.

Photo Credits:

Article header photo credit: St. Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens (1615). http://wp.me/p1EaDQ-24

Bibliography Photo Credit: http://www.maicar.com/GML/Bibliography.html

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