Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Missionary, Pastor, and Theologian

Hebrews 13:7 "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith."

In light of this passage a few brothers and I have been getting together to read through Eckhard J. Schnabel's book Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods and it has been excellent. Here is how Schnabel defines mission in the book:
The term "mission" or "missions" refers to the activity of a community of faith that distinguishes itself from its environment in terms of both religious belief (theology) and social behavior (ethics), that is convinced of the truth claims of its faith and that actively works to win other people to the content of faith and the way of life of whose truth and necessity the members of the community are convinced (22).

So far the book has been gospel-centered and faithful to Scripture. Here is how he describes the purpose of the book:
This is my goal in this book: to provide a close reading of the relevant New Testament texts that help us understand Paul's missionary work - proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and establishing communities of believers - in terms of the goals that he had and in terms of the methods that he used (30).

This book has been great, and it has given us a lot to chew on. After giving a solid chronology of Paul's life and work Schnabel summarizes how Paul identified his missionary task in the content of Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. After this he summarizes Paul's self-identification of being a missionary in the following list. I am going to begin praying through this list for myself and all the missionaries and pastors that I know!
(1) God is the Lord over all missionary work.
(2) "Success" is the result of God's activity, not men or their methods.
(3) Christ is the content of preaching and the foundation, criterion, and measure of church planting and church growth.
(4) Missionaries are servants of God and His word.
(5) Missionaries make a public proclamation of the victory of God who also leads them.
(6) Paul sees himself as a church-planter establishing new communities of believers.
(7) A missionary's central work is the proclamation of the gospel.
(8) We must pay consistent attention to our listeners.
(9) Paul is not satisfied with the success of his mission, he wants to reach more and more people.
(10) Paul doesn't work alone.
(11) These are the last days, Gentiles don't need to become Jews to then become Christians. Christ is held out to all.
(12) Missionaries, Teachers & Preachers are responsible to God for their work and their motivations.

Schnabel, Eckhard J. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods (Grand Rapids: IVP Academic, 2008), 151-4.

As we consider Paul's faith together I hope we will only grow more mature in our faith!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

God Gives Us Children to Make Us More Like Jesus

After a great afternoon of watching sword swallowing and jousting at the Maryland Renaissance Festival we went out for dessert and a parenting talk/question and answer with Bob and Julie Kauflin at CHBC. Here are some of my notes:
Introduction: The longer they parent the less confident they feel. He mentioned that when their first child (of 6) was four he was ready to write a book, but now he's less confident that he knows what is always correct. When facing difficult situations they described how they cry out to God, surround themselves with friends who can help, and try to apply the Scriptures to their circumstances. They also encouraged, "don't miss the big picture," in parenting.

Psalm 127:3: They encouraged us to see our children in all seasons as a gift from the Lord. Further, God gives us children to make us more like Jesus. This challenges the notion that parents have many times that God has given them children so that they can make the kids more like Jesus. Children are gifts. This alone heads off so many problems that parents have with their children.

Ephesians 6:4: They encouraged us that our responsibility is to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God's goals for our children are primary in our parenting. We try, erroneously, to be the Holy Spirit and God in our children's life too often. As parents we will be tempted to provoke our children or as Colossians says "exasperate" our children. We must let God do the work in our children's lives.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9: Parenting is a constant activity. A large part of parenting is what they observe in our lives. Having a cross-centered culture in our homes is of the utmost importance. Discipline protects the kids, and it shows them what is right, but it doesn't convert them. What we are aiming for primarily is our kids' desires. They mentioned that ages 11-14 is a fundamental shaping period for their desires, and when they are between the ages of 15-18 we will know what their desires are because they will begin acting on them. The way that we live as parents is the greatest means of teaching our kids. He then said that they want their kids to leave the home knowing that, "nothing is more valuable than Jesus Christ," and that Jesus is the main theing they need when they leave the house. Lastly he mentioned that the main goal in parenting is heart change.

Then we had a number of questions and answers:
(1) Do you have any advice for approaching family worship? His response was really encouraging as he said that they've basically had the approach of starting a number of approaches and then they dropped off. He said that they tried a variety of things a number of times with many successes and many failures. He said one thing to do would be to pose the question, "What evidences of God's work have you seen in your life this week?" Making family devotions fun is huge...teach them that this is God's world, and that Christ is the most desirable thing in your life. He said to take this approach: (1) Song (2) Scripture (3) Thought

(2) How do you work on a 7-9 year-old's character and not only discipline? Bob posed the question that we should ask ourselves, "Why can't you look at your kids as a blessing like a stranger's kids?" We often look at other people's kids and think how cute they are and the parents usually respond saying, "Well, you should see them at home." How we think of the gospel as it applies to us will transform how we relate to our kids. God is not a tyrant with us, and this should change how we relate to our kids. We should work to be developing a culture of grace in our homes from ages 6-10. Then when you reach ages 11-14 you'll know if you have their hearts or not.

(3) How should you deal with a 3 1/2 year old's hating of everything? One idea was that you can give your child the illusion of choice when they really don't have one by giving options to do things that you've predetermined are okay. They encouraged to be faithful in instruction, and told how role-playing and making things into games is really important. They then gave the encouragement that when your child hates everything that it's primarily a sin issue. Don't assume it's personal, and don't assume how this will affect the child when they are 18. This will only encourage fear. They encouraged us that we have to first begin by going to God, "God please help me," and ask for wisdom.

(4) How can fathers cultivate a culture of gratitude and joy in the home? Fathers have a responsibility to set the tone at home. You don't want your kids to hear how the dad is one way outside the home and think about how much they aren't like that when they think of what he is like in the home. Ephesians 4:29 constant correction and discouraging thoughts will only corrupt our children. It's important to remind our kids that we are for them. Ask them the question regularly, "Do you know that I'm for you?" and, "Do you know that I am grateful for you?" Demonstrate these things to your children. Demonstrate a consistent confidence that God is good, and that He gave His Son for us. Don't be silently grateful, put it into words. Lectures and monologues are not effective with our kids. They said we should ask ourselves two questions to help us in parenting: (1) Would I want to be with me if I was my child? (2) Would I treat any of my friends the way I'm treating my kids?

(5) Someone asked about how their youngest is quite a bit younger than their second to youngest...they seem like they are going easier on the youngest. Their question was what's going on here, "Are we more confident in God? Are we lazier? Are we just more laid back? or is there something else going on?" They said to ask this question, "Do we have the same relationship with the youngest?" In a lot of ways the Lord sometimes will work in the youngest to mature them faster because they are consistently around more mature people. The Kauflin's changed their parenting philosophy after reading Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, but largely they did everything the same and the Lord just worked in each of their kids' lives in different ways. They mentioned the phrase from Tripp's book that was helpful, "A well-worn path to the cross." This is what we constantly want to do with our kids. In everything point them toward the well-worn path to the cross. If we don't labor to do this and have a rule-keeping mentality with the kids it will only lead to a struggle with pride in their future.

Lastly, they encouraged us to be confident that God is always at work. This was an encouraging time. Hopefully these notes have a nugget here or there that will be helpful for you.

Boast in Christ

Here's an excerpt from a sermon I preached recently on James 1:9-11. If you aren't a Christian consider how a person could possibly boast if he or she is poor. If you are a Christian meditate on the riches that are found in Christ alone, and try to look into your life and see the ways that you boast about Him.
Christian if you are poor you have riches in Christ. Consider the fact that before God created the world He had a purpose. The gospel was the secret wisdom of God which He decreed before the ages for our glory (1 Cor 2:7). This isn’t to say that you will not face any trials in this life, and James lays out that poverty is one of those trials, but one day the Lord will raise us up in the twinkling of an eye, and we will be glorified along with Christ. We have inherited much, even if we do not have the material riches of a monarchy here in this life. Take heart if you are struggling with poverty and delight in the glory of Christ, your rich inheritance. This is how a poor brother or sister is to boast, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal 6:14).” So if we are in need it is to serve a purpose, to help us see our riches in our dependence on Christ. As the hymn Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy states, “Let not conscience make you linger, nor of fitness fondly dream, all the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of Him.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grand Avenue Baptist Church; Ames, IA

Last week Lindsey and I hosted Terry Martens who is an elder from Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Ames. He came out with their new pastor Michael Felkins. It was a joy to get to know these brothers, and I hope the Weekender here at Capitol Hill Baptist Church was as much of a blessing to them as it was to us before we moved to DC.

It is encouraging to know that there is a solid expositional preaching ministry going strong in Ames, Iowa! If you're in Ames check 'em out! Here's a picture of me with Terry.

Inerrancy & Infallibility of Scripture

Today some people can nuance these terms so that they can affirm one and deny the other. That being said it's interesting how Christians before our time used the term infallibility to describe the concept that many now describe by using the term inerrancy. That the Scriptures are without error seems to be what Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) wrote about as "infallibility" (this was first published in 1862-1864):

"As an apostle he spake divine truths, and was guided infallibly by the Spirit of God; he delivered truths without all conditions and exceptions...And you must know this, that God, as he used the apostles and excellent men to write his book, to write the word of God, to be his penmen, yet he hindered them not be men. As he hinders not godly men to be men, but at once they may be saints and men; so St Paul as a good man, desired to see them, with a reservation; but as an apostle, he spake in the certainty of divine truth...So the prophets and apostles, as men, they might be alterable without sin. For God will allow men to be men, and subject to mistakes...But as an apostle, his doctrine was without ifs and ands, without exception, as we say, 'if God permit,' &c. 'No,' saith he; 'as God is true, our word to you was not yea and nay.' So in the apostles, we must consider a difference of divine truths that they delivered as apostles, from those things that they purposed as men, and as holy men."

Sibbes, Richard Works of Richard Sibbes Volume 3: An Exposition of 2nd Corinthians Chapter One (Carlisle: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), 356.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

District of Columbia Detention Center

Last night two brothers and I went to do a Bible study on the parable of the four soils from Matthew 13 with about five young men at a detention center just down the road. It was a privilege to be able to share the gospel with these guys. Many could give answers to the questions like they had been in a church before, but they really didn't have an understanding of Christ, and the gospel, and the battle that is going on for their souls. They were tracking really closely and we shared the gospel clearly. In light of the wrath of God to come my heart is heavy for these guys. If you would willing here are a few ways you could pray for them:
(1) That the Holy Spirit might regenerate their hearts and that they would repent and believe in the gospel.
(2) That the Lord would bring their families to salvation and protect them.
(3) That the Lord might put them in a gospel preaching church if they get out.
(4) That they would have a thirst to read the Bible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Was the Concept of Biblical Inerrancy Invented in the 1970's?

Have you ever heard this statement? "The concept of biblical inerrancy was invented in the 1970's." If you have the person saying it was probably referring to the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy's statement called The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy written in 1978. Folks that say this are mistaken, and it is saddening that they discourage trust in the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture by saying things like this. The term inerrancy simply means "without error" as it applies to the original manuscripts of the Old & New Testaments of the Bible. Here's how B. B. Warfield described inerrancy before 1921:

"The Church, then, has held from the beginning that the Bible is the Word of God in such a sense that its words, though written by men and bearing indelibly impressed upon them the marks of their human origin, were written, nevertheless, under such an influence of the Holy Ghost as to be also the words of God, the adequate expression of His mind and will. It has always recognized that this conception of co-authorship implies that the Spirit's superintendence extends to the choice of the words by the human authors (verbal inspiration), and preserves its product from everything inconsistent with a divine authorship - thus securing, among other things, that entire truthfulness which is everywhere presupposed in and asserted for Scripture by the Biblical writers (inerrancy). Whatever minor variations may now and again have entered into the mode of statement, this has always been the core of the Church doctrine of inspiration."

Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge The Works of B. B. Warfield: Revelation and Insiration, Volume I (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, 2003), 173. [I didn't make any changes to the original quote. We took the pictures above of Warfield's grave at Princeton, NJ earlier this summer.]

Good Enough for Paul and Silas, Good Enough for Me!

I've been doing some work on genealogy, hopefully in a way that will promote stewardship of the gospel (so I don't conflict with 1 Tim 1:3-4, and Titus 3:9). It has been great! I've been reading through Grandma Braymen's diaries and the quote below was at the back of the one from 1964. This year was filled with journal entries about conflict over the children's Sunday School curriculum. She noted in her journal that Grandpa read through some of the curriculum with her and after pointing out some errors in comparison with what the Bible teaches he encouraged her to write a letter to the pastor. Here is what she wrote:
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed; rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15)

It was good for Paul & Silas - it is good enough for me.

July 14, 1964

Greetings to Rev. --

I am a Bible teacher, a Bible student - unfit spiritually to teach otherwise. God wants me to teach - & I believe it (she taught children's Sunday School).

Why I object [to the new curriculum]. [There is] no comparison to Bible lessons.

Omission of risen Christ, conversion, parables, prayer, Holy Spirit, salvation, sin, virigin birth, Easter, resurrection, ascension, miracles, Pentecost, "born again", ...1st church at Jerusalem, Christians 1st at Antioch, many more.

[The] Bible is [the] study of God's relation to man. (She then listed out some of the content of what they were studying and then wrote the following.) [This is] making Jesus in man[s] image.

I'm with Grandma on this one! The Baptist Faith and Message puts it well when it describes the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible by saying the following:
"The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a the perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation."

Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Changing The Blog

I have been blogging very sporadically lately, and I'm hoping to get a little more regular. That said, I'm making a few changes to the old blog, and I'm hoping to even get a more relevant url. So keep your eyes peeled!