Influences: Where Theology and Expectation Meet

Romans 15:17-21 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Lets play the ‘What if’ game.

What if his word sent out will not return void? (Isaiah 55:11)

What if the gospel is the power of God in salvation for those who believe? (Romans 1:16)

My theology and doctrine says that word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, God can bring the Gentiles to obedience to God.

My theology is real quick to proclaim that word, deed, signs, and wonders, all by the power of the Holy Spirit, brings about salvation. (Notice that the work of the Holy Spirit must happen before we can obey God.)

Now what are my expectations?

I challenge you just like my friend Alan Smith challenged me.

1. Either your expectations must be raised up to match your theology.

-or-

2. You will have to lower your theology in order to have it synced with your expectations.

Call it pride. Call it stubbornness. Call it what you will but I have no desire to ever lower my theology in order to match anything that I could offer.

I have chosen the former.

The Art of Building Intimacy

“The art of building intimacy comes from two people being genuine and then telling each other the truth. That is how we are going to be free. That is how we are going to build strong marriages and strong families: everybody has permission to be themselves around me and I get to be myself around everybody else.

What I am not saying is that everybody gets to be an idiot. It’s not, ‘you’re ok and I’m okay.’ Sometimes, you are acting selfish and evil and it needs to be okay to tell you, ‘you are acting selfish and evil’ and how I am affected by that. I know you value me and you know I trust you.”

– Danny Silk, The Art of Creating Intimacy

Influences: I Know Nothing But Him

I know one thing, that I know nothing.

– Socrates

If I have set the direction of my theology based on the thread of Hebrews 6:1-3, 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, and 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, then I would have to say this would be the basis for all of my reading, studying, writing, lecturing, preaching, and teaching:

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Am I going to slip up and give my feeble opinion when I should be pointing to Christ?

Am I going to run off at the mouth instead of trying to best describe the glories of Christ?

Am I going to present dog poop from the world instead of the vast riches of Christ?

Yep. I can guarantee that is going to happen.

Still, I have nothing to give to God. He alone has made my mind the way it is. He has constructed my personality for his glory (that is still weird to me). He has physically put me together in such a way that my voice booms.

And all that He has done results in me giving glory back to Him.

That brings Him joy. That brings me joy.

I am not qualify for whatever tasks that he has set out for me. But He called me and He will see it to the end.

I know nothing. However God made me and whatever He gave me is what I do have. I have God. That is way more than I can possibly dream.

Mark 3:31-35 Jesus is Family

Mark 3:31-35 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

I am your dad. Yet, how can I call you brothers and sisters?

 

When Christ was teaching the crowds, did His mom and family believe He is God, the Christ, the Son of God or did they think he was crazy?

 

Did Mary and Jesus’ family believed in Him as God later?

 

Why do I call you brother and sister?

 

What does it mean that God is our Father, Christ is our oldest brother, and we are in His family?

 

If somebody from Africa trusted in Jesus Christ, does that make them our family, too?

 

Series: I have made mentioned of our family devotions on the Internets and gotten a few requests for my notes. So that is what I am doing just that here. Every Wednesday as a regular weekly series, I will share my notes that I write in preparing for family devotions.

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 1

O Lord,

Like a child, I have fallen and all of my strength has left me.

As my precious Father, put me back up on my feet and hold my hands so I can learn to run to you.

Give me your strength and might.

Give me your word and your promises.

Oh, how you give to me. You give me your love and you see to it that I make it back  to you.

By only You will I be able to grow, mature and stand with you in your presence.

 

I distinctly remember my life before Your life.

I remember disease, destruction, slavery, and death.

My little heart and feeble mind wants to give up and turn my face back towards death.

Then I would leave Life. I would step out of the fullness of joy. I would then settle for lesser pleasures. I would not have You.

God, I am still weak like a little child. Give me your strength and love. Turn my heart towards you. Run towards me and pick me up once more.

Psalm 1:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:1-17; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15

Series: As a young believer, I have not had the chance to read all the way through the Bible. The Psalms and Proverbs will be the last books before I finish the Old Testament in Ezekiel, Daniel, then Isaiah. As I read through the Psalms, I was struck by the very personal and intimate nature of the Psalms despite the deep theological, doctrinal, and Christocentric focus of the written songs themselves.  Using the Psalms as a mere template and an outline, how I would I respond? So doing just that, I began writing out prayers based on each of the Psalms.

Influences: The Thread of Logic

I believe, trust, understand, love, and think by this principle: my entire grasp, knowledge, relationship, salvation, and love to God, for God, by God, from God, and through God is according to these three Scriptures:

Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

1 Corinthians 3:21-23 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

Here is the thread of logic I see here:

  1. Knowing God is by the will of God (Hebrews 6:3)
  2. All truth comes from God and since we belong to Christ, all truth is ours (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
  3. For us to understand anything given to us by God, including and especially the free gift of salvation, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)

This thought is neatly summed up by the theologian John Calvin:

“finitum non capax infinitum”

In other words, “The finite mind cannot comprehend the infinite.”

In his Introduction to his Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof compared and contrasted the two realms of knowledge: Science and Theology. Science comes about because we can, in certain ways, control the subject of which we want to know more about. We can dig deep into the subject. We can prod it. We can expose it. We can cut it in two. What Berkhof contends is that what is true for Science is not true for God and hence, why we have true and proper Theology. In Theology, it is actually the Subject that controls, reveals, and enlightens how much we know about the Subject.

Could you imagine an ant determining how much or how little we know about the ant? That is a preposterous thought. But that is precisely how God reveals Himself to us: by His will through His Son by the almighty power of the Holy Spirit.  The root question now for our hearts and minds is whether we dismiss any theology and war against that very notion or do we humbly approach the throne of grace.

You might be thinking, “If this is true, how can we know God at all?

Can we know God at all or are you wanting to know all of God? The latter is not possible. Think about your spouse, your best friend, or your kids. You feel as you know them well but can you say you know all of your spouse or your best friend? God reveal Himself to us, in as we might not know all of Him, we can take full confidence that we can truly know Him because we are His people saved by Him, for Him, from Him, to Him and through Him forever and ever.

In 1 Corinthians 8:1, Paul gives a small warning about this sort of knowledge—the knowledge of God and knowing God in order to love and care for one another. It is by this wonderful knowledge of God that can easily puff up our chests and create the wrongful desire that all people would come to you as the foremost expert on all things God as though you are some sort of priest and mediator between them and God. We can never be that because we have One Great High Priest and the Perfect Mediator in His Son, Jesus Christ.

But in order to rightfully guard against that sort of deceit and pride, we do not bring about that protection by increasing our ignorance of God. For God has said:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
     because you have rejected knowledge,
     I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
     I also will forget your children.
Hosea 4:6

Whatever can we do?

Always know that God passionately desires you to know him truly and deeply—more true than you closest best friend a more deeply than the richest diamond mines of all the earth. In that, His heart’s desire, is that you would come to truly know His beautiful love for you and the untold riches of His grace so that your desire and love for Him would swell your heart and satisfy your soul.

I say all of this not because it has been perfected in my life. When God shown himself to me, I was grateful and in love. When He started to pour knowledge of Him in me, I became haughty and arrogant. Can we say that was from God? I would think not except the fact that I know one other part of His will for me: my sanctification. That is, He that began the good work in me will bring to completion on the faithful day I get to hold my lovely Savior’s face in my hands and get to kiss him ten thousand kisses.

That day has not arrived yet. But it will. Until then, I can do nothing else but trust in Him, love Him, and love others the best way that I can. So help me God.

Here is Love: Perfectly—Matthew 1:21

And here is love: Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

I have heard it said many times from the pulpit, “The Bible does not say, ‘Jesus died on the cross for only his people.’”

Then why did Jesus die on the cross?

Did He die for the mere possibility that you might be saved? If for one moment you could suspend your theological conviction that hope is in Christ alone, entertain this thought: If Christ died on the cross in hopes that you would receive Him then that means you alone have the power to switch on the power of His death on the cross. If individuals had that sort of activating power, then by all accounts, Jesus died for nothing.

That cannot be true.

Did He die for the entire world so that the entire world would be saved? It is true that the Apostle John uses the phrase ‘the world’ and ‘the whole world’ quite often when it comes to saving with verses like John 3:16, 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:14 come to mind. Yet, when you go back and look at the over context of the verses (chapters of John 3, 1 John 2, and 1 John 4), you can clearly see that John did not dare imply that all would be saved, especially to the fact that Christ said himself, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

With the ‘many’ and ‘few’ in mind, look how careful John is with noting Christ’s salvation:

John 3:17-18 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Can we say that Christ would save everybody for all time? That cannot be true.

When the logical reasonable truth that is Christ’s particular, definite, perfect atonement for sin starts to set in, there is two ways to react to this.

One reaction would be rejection. Rejection because we have hoped in possibility and chance that one of our loved ones would be saved because they did something good or right in their lives. But when our God saves, there is no chance or possibility that would not save them or once saved, then they fall through his fingers. (Isaiah 59:1; John 10:29) Salvation does not rest on man but on God alone because salvation is of the Lord and He is the mighty one to save. (Jonah 2:9; Zephaniah 3:17) In other words, as Christ faced His disciples, he would also turn to us and say, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)

The other reaction is that with sheer and audacious boldness, conviction, and faith that Christ did not save you because of your best day. No. When he looked upon your life, He saw you on your worst day, you with committing your most terrible sin, you thinking your most incredible blasphemous thought, and adamantly declares to hosts of heavens, “I need to have that wicked sinner into my family. I know he is far. I know he doesn’t know me. I know he is running away. But right now, because of his birth and choice, he is running quickly into destruction and death. But I got to have him with me because I love him. I am going to take care of this once and for all. I am going to save him from his sins. I am going to save him.”

Upon hearing the news that his virgin fiancé was pregnant, Joseph was heart-broken. He didn’t want to shame her. So he figured he would quietly divorce her. That would be the kind thing to do.

An angel intervened.

“Don’t be afraid of marrying her. Listen, Mary is about to have a son. You will call Him, Salvation is of the Lord. Name him: Jesus. Why? Because He will freely, powerfully, perfectly, definitely, particularly, humbly, lovingly, graciously, mercifully, justly, righteously, and gloriously save His people from their sins.”

There is no ‘might save’ in that verse as to indicate some sort of mere possibility.

There is no ‘try to save’ as though my Lord and God is somehow impotent.

There is only ‘will save’ because of the power of the Holy Spirit through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Jesus by the sovereign, gracious choosing, adopting, sanctifying and glorifying love of the God alone.

With our hearts bursting forth, we can proclaim:

That is love.

Influences: How Did I Get Here?

Answer: God.

Well, that was easy.

In all seriousness, I got a tweet from a friend of mine:

Which, in turn, made me think: How did I get here? Why do I think the way that I do? Who has God used to shape my faith in Him, my knowledge of Him and my love of Him?

So, being a mere Kindergarten pupil in God’s kingdom, I thought I would take some time and write up what and whom influences me and shapes my worldview, philosophy, theology, doctrine, and love. In no real order, I am going to go through and list out the Biblical verses, books of the Bible, other books, people (dead and alive), blogs, ministries, and relationships that have been used by God to make me what I am now. I do this to help me step back from myself, see if I can see where I am going and more importantly, ask God if that is where He wants me to go.

This is me just externally processing but I am eager to see what all of this will look like.