Category Archives: theology

More theology from the boys

So if you know me you know that I love theology and believe a deep biblical theology is essential to living out the mission Jesus has called us to in the current pluralistic culture we are in. So last night was awesome in a funny sort of way. Our boys, Riley and Ridge are 6 and 4 and full-bore high energy and are sometimes difficult to corral when it’s time to get things done, like put on pajamas and get into bed. Last night I was getting Reese ready for bed downstairs and told the boys to brush their teeth and get pajamas on (which they are both capable of doing by themselves). The noise coming from upstairs made it quite obvious they were not doing what I had asked. Needless to say it did not turn pretty when I came upstairs and they were playing with toys and generally finding ways to not do what I asked. Finally with pajamas on and things settled I was sitting on their bed talking with them as I try and do when I’m home in the evenings. I asked them “Why didn’t ya’ll obey me instead of me having to ask 5 times for you to brush your teeth and put on pajamas.” Without a beat Riley said, “because we’re sinners.” I couldn’t help but laugh. What kind of comeback do I have for that one?! Then it got even better, Riley proceeded to tell me that, “Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and that’s when sin came into the world, and now we’re all sinners, but that wasn’t the way God wanted it to be.” My 6 year old explained Original Sin just like that! So of course wanting to get Jesus’ redemption on the cross into the conversation I asked “But what did God do after that?” Ridge, my 4 year old chimed in, “He made them leave the Garden and put an angel with a sword there!” He really likes the idea of an angel with a sword, and although I don’t like the circumstances, an angel with a sword is pretty cool. I laughed and we talked about Jesus dying for our sin as we have many times before, and then I asked them where they learned this? “In City Kids this morning” was the answer. City Kids is our children’s ministry at Ephesus. Yeah! Jonah and the whale is cool and all, but our kids are getting to the good stuff, and they understand it, and they know too that God loves them enough that even though they’re sinners, Jesus died for them and rose again so they can be forgiven. That’s awesome. And thanks to Seth Ervin who was teaching at City Kids yesterday and taught my boys some theology, even if they did use it as a comeback when they wouldn’t get their pajamas on…

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Get to Reading

I’m a voracious reader beyond the bible: fiction, non-fiction, Christian, non-Christian all kinds of stuff. To continually be growing, I believe reading is essential. A few years ago I discovered a great way to read books, listening. Audiobooks aren’t new, but I remember 8 or 10 cassette tapes (yeah I’m old enough for those) for one book, a pain. But now many books are available in audio download. I can’t stand listening to the radio in the car and I feel like listening to music in the car all of the time is a waste because I’m not learning anything new. Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time when driving or excercising or whatever else you might be doing that can be somewhat mindless. I’ve been using Audible.com for my audiobooks. They have a great selection of all kinds of books, but very little when it comes to quality Christian stuff, and I’m not talking about Janette Oke…the good stuff that digs into issues and theology and cultural changes. Today I discovered Christianaudio.com. Great selection, the books I couldn’t find on Audible are there. Even better, each month they offer an audiobook for free, and not the cruddy stuff you’ll never bother with, good stuff. This month “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. That’s a winner! I used this for some of my research material when we went through the “Supernatural” series on the Holy Spirit. It is solid and engaging. So follow the link, download a free book and get to reading!

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Spiritual Gifts Rundown

Spiritual Gifts

This past Sunday at Ephesus in part 7 of our series “Supernatural” we looked at 6 of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 12. While Paul does not elaborate on each gift specifically, except for prophecy, tongues and interpretation of tongues, we can see how they function in the life of Jesus and other early Christians in the bible. I briefly described each one this past Sunday, but wanted to specifically add Scripture references so you could dig into each gift yourself. Always, at Ephesus, we encourage you to study the bible for yourself. Preaching is good for instruction, but it is the starting point of your own time in Scripture wrestling with theology and doctrine for yourself. That way we are all better prepared and gain an even deeper love for Jesus as we see Him revealed in His Word. So here we go, some spiritual gift action:

1. Word of Wisdom-1 Corinthians 12:8

  • The ability to apply biblical truth to situations and people’s lives so Godly choices are made and foolish mistakes are avoided
  • Luke 2:40-52: Jesus was filled with wisdom and grew in wisdom so that the scholars of the day were amazed “at his understanding
  • Mark 6:2-his wisdom is very evident as he teaches and the people were “astonished.” It’s also interesting to note that Mark equates this wisdom to the “mighty works” Jesus was doing. Wisdom and the supernatural works of God go hand-in-hand
  • Deuteronomy 34:9-Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom. Here we see the Holy Spirit at work in the Old Testament in the life of one of the greatest, most courageous leaders of the Jewish people.

2. Word of Knowledge-1 Corinthians 12:8

  • The ability to read, remember and make effective use of the information they gather to bring others to a deeper understanding of Jesus
  • A combination of biblical knowledge and a deep understanding of the nature of God with common sense and cultural understanding to bring others to a practical understanding of Jesus
  • The gift of the knowledge is sometimes confused with the gift of prophecy. Having a prophetic word for someone’s life (as seen in Acts 21:10-11) is sometimes mistakenly called a “word of knowledge.”
  • These are obviously two distinct gifts as evident in their separate listing in this passage and also Paul’s specific focus on prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14
  • 2 Timothy 2:15-“rightly dividing the word of truth.” Using the gift of knowledge to bring deep understanding of Scripture to the world
  • Acts 4:13-The Sanhedrin recognized a deep understanding of Scripture as Peter and John used the Old Testament to show them Jesus was the Messiah. They acknowledged these were uneducated men, therefore we see the gift of knowledge at work

3. Gift of Faith-1 Corinthians 12:9

  • Supernatural ability to see the enormous plans of God and believe God to accomplish them even when many others may not
  • These folks dream big, pray big and believe big because they’re gifted to have faith that God really is God.
  • Acts 6:5-8- Stephen was full of faith and did great signs and wonders
  • Ultimately his deep faith led him to be the first Christian martyr after preaching an incredible sermon on the truth of Jesus in Acts 7.
  • Many people of faith are listed in Hebrews 11
  • Luke 1:26-38-After being told she would have a child (even though she was a virgin) who is the Son of God, Mary’s response is to worship because of her faith in the word of the angel. That’s some serious faith!

4. Gift of Healing- 1 Corinthians 12:9

  • The ability to call on God to heal the sick through supernatural means so that God is revealed
  • Matthew 4:23-24 speaks of the many healings Jesus performed
  • Matthew 10:1-the Apostles had the gift of healing
  • Acts 5:14-16-Peter heals many, sometimes when only his shadow falls on them!
  • James 5:13-16-The elders of the church are directed to lay hands on and pray for the sick so that God might heal them

5. Gift of Miracles-1 Corinthians 12:10

  • The ability to call on God to do supernatural acts that reveal His power
  • John 20:30-31-Jesus did many miracles so that we would believe he is the Son of God
  • Acts 6:8-Stephen did great works, or miracles
  • Acts 19:11-God “worked unusual miracles” through Paul in Ephesus. And we all know what happened there!
  • In the life of Moses, Elijah and Elisha many miracles occurred. My personal favorite is Elijah and the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18!

6. Gift of Discernment-1 Corinthians 12:10

  • The supernatural ability to perceive whether people, events or beliefs are from God or Satan
  • As evident by my rant on Sunday, this one is so important to me.
  • Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus discerns the presence of Satan
  • Luke 22:31-Jesus discerns Satan’s influence on Peter and prays for it to be broken. Encouraging to note is that Peter would go on to be an incredible leader of the early church.
  • 1 John 4-John’s exhortation to discern and test the spirits to know what is from God
  • Acts 16:16-18-Paul discerns the demonic work in the divinations of a young girl and prays for the bondage to be broken. What’s really fun is he and Silas are then thrown into prison for destroying her “handlers” financial livelihood. Tarot card reading is nothing new…

What needs to be repeated is that these gifts are still fully available and active today. As Christians, we should pursue the continued infilling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-19) and the gifts that he chooses to bestow on us. The purpose then of using these gifts is that through their supernatural work, others will be led to Jesus. Not us, but Jesus will be lifted up. Good times!

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Afterword for May 3, 2009

I really like this method of doing a little follow-up to sermons from Sunday. Hopefully I’ll be able to do these on a semi-regular basis. This Afterword is for May 3, 2009. Enjoy…and check out the sweet face I’m making in the screenshot before you click “play.” Nice.

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Tim Keller on the Missional Church

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, has much to say on the missional church. In a short article that he wrote he sums it up very well…

[W]hat makes a small group missional? A ‘missional’ small group is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific ‘evangelism’ program (though that is to be recommended). Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood, 2) if they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language, 3) if in their bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, 4)if they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically, 5) if they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to [the] opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures, 6) they do not bash other Christians and churches-then seekers and non-believing people from the city A) will be invited and B) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, “Christianized” people.

Certainly a challenge to me as I process how I preach sermons and how I interact with those around me. You’ll notice not once does he say compromise or water-down the Gospel. But stand firm in the Gospel while loving those who are still doubters. I’m challenged, I hope you are too.

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