Archive for September, 2013

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

Posted: September 30, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Discipleship

” stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.”

Read the list at link below,

“The Strange Glory of Ordinary Things – Desiring God”

Finding your theological balance indeed can be difficult, so here are five tips for those of us still in process.
1. Read your Bible like crazy.

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1Cor 4 , D.A. Carson

Posted: September 19, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, The Christian Life

PAUL IN 1 CORINTHIANS 3 HAS BEEN telling the Corinthians how not to view servants of Christ. They are not to view any particular servant of Christ as a group guru, for that means other servants of Christ are implicitly inferior. When each different group within the church has its own Christian guru, there are therefore two evils: unnecessary division within the church, and a censorious condescension that pronounces judgment on who is worthy to be a guru and who is not. Paul insists that all that God has for the church in a Paul or an Apollos or a Cephas rightly belongs to the whole church (1 Cor. 3:21–22).

At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 4, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians how they are to view servants of Christ: “as those entrusted with the secret things of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). The word rendered “secret things” does not mean “mysterious things” or “things that only the elite of the elect may learn.” The word is often rendered “mysteries” in our older versions. In the New Testament, it most commonly refers to something that God has in some measure kept veiled, hidden, or secret in the past, but which he is now making abundantly clear in Christ Jesus. In short, these “servants of Christ” are entrusted with the Gospel—all that God has made clear in the coming of Jesus Christ.

Those given a trust must prove faithful to the one to whom they are accountable (1 Cor. 4:2). For that reason, Paul knows that how the Corinthians view him is of little importance; indeed, how he assesses himself has no great significance either (1 Cor. 4:3). Paul knows that it is important to keep a clear conscience before the Lord. But it is possible to have a clear conscience and still be guilty of many things, because conscience is not a perfect instrument. Conscience may be misinformed or hardened. The only person whose judgment is absolutely right, and of ultimate importance, is the Lord himself (1 Cor. 4:4). It follows that the Corinthians should not appoint themselves judges over all the “servants of Christ” whom Christ sends. When the Lord returns, the final accounting will become clear. At that point, Paul says, “each will receive his praise from God” (1 Cor. 4:5)—a wonderful thought, for it appears that the final Judge will prove more encouraging and positive than many human judges.

Some place remains in the church for discernment and judgment: see tomorrow’s meditation! But there are always batteries of critics who go way “beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6) with legalistic tests of their own disgruntled devising, attaching themselves to their gurus and abominating the rest. They often think they are prophetic, whereas in fact their pretensions come close to usurping God’s place.



from D.A. Carson’s blog

Not surprisingly, homes modeling lukewarm faith do not create enduring faith in children. Homes modeling vibrant faith do. So these young adults are leaving something they never had a good grasp of in the first place. This is not a crisis of faith, per se, but of parenting

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1 cor 3 , D.A. Carson

Posted: September 18, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, The Christian Life

THE TWO EXTENDED METAPHORS that Paul deploys in 1 Corinthians 3:5–15 make roughly the same point, although each carries a special shading not found in the other.

In the agricultural metaphor (1 Cor. 3:5–9), the Lord is the farmer, Paul prepares the ground and plants the seed, Apollos waters the fledgling plants, and the Corinthians are “God’s field” (1 Cor. 5:9). In the context, which is designed to combat the Corinthians’ penchant for division based on attaching themselves to particular “heroes” (1 Cor. 3:3–4), Paul is concerned to show that he and Apollos are not competitors, but “fellow workers” (1 Cor. 5:9)—indeed, “God’s fellow workers” (i.e., they are fellow workers who belong to God, not fellow workers along with God, as if God makes up a threesome). Not only so, but neither Paul nor Apollos can guarantee fruit: God alone makes the seed grow (1 Cor. 3:6–7). So why adopt a reverential stance toward either Paul or Apollos?

The architectural metaphor initially makes the same point: the various builders all contribute to one building, and therefore none should be idolized. Now the Corinthians are not the field, but the building itself (1 Cor. 3:9–10). Paul laid the foundation of this building; otherwise put, he planted the church in Corinth. The foundation that Paul laid is Jesus Christ himself (1 Cor. 3:11). Since his departure from this building project, others have come and built on this foundation. Thus, so far the architectural metaphor implicitly makes the same point that the agricultural metaphor made explicitly.

But now the architectural metaphor turns in a slightly different direction. Paul insists that later builders are responsible to choose with care the material they put into this building (1 Cor. 3:12–15). A “Day” is coming (1 Cor. 3:13), the day of judgment, when all that is not precious in God’s sight will be consumed. It is possible that a builder could use such shoddy materials that in the end, all that he has built is devoured, even if he himself escapes the flames.

Two observations: (1) The person Paul describes as being “saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:15), is not some purely nominal Christian whose conduct is indifferentiable from that of any pagan. Such do not enter the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9–10). This is a “builder,” not the mass of Christians who constitute the “building” (1 Cor. 3:10). The question is whether these evangelists and pastors are using proper materials. (2) In 1 Corinthians 3:16–17, the building, the church of God, becomes a temple. Later on, God’s temple is the individual Christian’s body (1 Cor. 6:19–20), but here it is the local church. God loves this building so much that he openly threatens to destroy those who destroy God’s temple. Damage the church, and you desecrate God’s temple—and God will destroy you.



from D.A. Carson’s blog

1 Corinthians 1, D.A. Carson

Posted: September 17, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Studies, Christianity, Sanctification

EVANGELICALS REGULARLY DRAW a line between justification and sanctification. Justification is God’s declaration that an individual sinner is just—a declaration grounded not in the fact that he or she is just, but in God’s accepting Christ’s death instead of the sinner’s, in God’s reckoning Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. It marks the beginning of the believer’s pilgrimage. From the believer’s vantage point, to be justified is a once-for-all experience bound up with God’s good purposes in Christ’s once-for-all death.

By contrast, sanctification in the Protestant tradition has normally been understood to refer to the process by which believers progressively become more holy. (Holy and sanctified/sanctification have the same root in Greek.) This is not a once-for-all experience; it reflects a lifelong pilgrimage, a process that will not be finally complete until the onset of the new heaven and the new earth. It is not what God reckons to us; it is what he empowers us to become.

Failure to distinguish between justification and sanctification frequently ends up with a blurring of justification. If justification takes on a shading of personal growth in righteousness, pretty soon the forensic, declarative nature of justification is lost to view, and we start reimporting some kind of works-righteousness through the back door.

Historically, of course, the warning is well merited. One must always be vigilant to preserve Paul’s emphasis on justification. But the SANCTIFICATION word-group has not always been well-served by this analysis. Those who study Paul have long noted that sometimes people are said to be “sanctified” in a POSITIONAL or DEFINITIONAL sense—that is, they are set apart for God (POSITIONAL), and therefore they already are sanctified (DEFINITIONAL). In such passages the process of progressively becoming more holy is not in view.

Most of the places where Paul talks about being “holy” or “sanctified” fall into this POSITIONAL or DEFINITIONAL camp. That is certainly the case in 1 Corinthians 1:2: Paul writes to “the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.” The Corinthians already are sanctified; they have been set apart for God. Therefore, they have been called to be holy—that is, to live life in line with their calling (which, by and large, they have been failing to do, quite spectacularly, judging by the rest of the book).

Of course, there are many passages that speak of growth and improvement that do not use SANCTIFICATION; for a start, meditate on Philippians 3:12–16. If we choose to use SANCTIFICATION as a term drawn from systematic theology to describe such growth, we do no wrong. But then we should not read this meaning back into Paul’s use where his focus is elsewhere.



from D.A. Carson’s blog

Three Dangers to Avoid When Reading/Studying the Scriptures

Posted: September 11, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

What Does the Text Say?

Note that I am most certainly not saying that you should avoid reading or studying the Bible (more on that below). You should read and study the Bible, you just shouldn’t do these things when you do.

1. Don’t Read and Study the Bible Simply to Learn Facts.

If we use the heart-head dichotomy here, we’re talking about using the Bible to fill our heads.

I know people who know all the eschatological views and the Scriptural arguments and proof-texts pro and con. I know people who can refute the false teachers, who love it when Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons come to their door because they can argue the Scripture for hours. I know people who know every minor character in every incidental story in the Old Testament and who could challenge a ThD to a Bible trivia contest and win.

Sadly, knowing trivia and facts is not that same…

View original post 660 more words

We tread lightly here, but I fear we vastly underestimate the spiritual damage inflicted on our churches by “How To” sermons without an explicit gospel connection. The Bible is full of practical exhortations and commands, of course, but they are always connected to the foundational and empowering truth of the finished work of Christ. When we preach a message like “Six Steps to _______” or any other “be a better whatever”-type message — where the essential proclamation is not what Christ has done but what we ought/need to do — we become preachers of the law rather than Christ.

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