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The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.3

…these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. – 1John 1:4

John rather surprisingly writes that he pens his first epistle for the purpose of completing the joy of his companions and himself. The implications were discussed in part 1, and now we are in the midst of trying to see what kind of thinking leads to such an almost bizarre statement, and to discover that, we are looking at three propositions I believe are undergirding the mind of John. The first proposition was this: Union with Jesus can never be divorced from union with brothers.

The second proposition I want to make is this:

Love for Jesus can never be divorced from love for brothers.

Or we could say it this way: Love for Jesus is equal and proportional to to love for my brother. Continue reading “The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.3”

The Completing Joy Of Fellowship, pt.2

…these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
-1John 1:4

What sort of things must shape the mind and thinking of John to write things such as “if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another,” instead of the seemingly more “appropriate” way to say it, “if we walk in the Light… we have fellowship with Him”? Continue reading “The Completing Joy Of Fellowship, pt.2”

The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.1

These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
– 1 John 1:4

When we study the Bible, we become rather quickly aware that with the exception of the book of Romans and some other scattered portions of other books, the Bible is not strictly a theological treatise. The Bible is a collection of history, poetry, of communications from God to specific men or a specific people, (think Old Testament Prophets) and written correspondence between persons, rather ordinary save for the fact that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Examples of this are the writings of Paul or the letters of John.

So in that sense, the Bible is not written first-hand personally to you or me, nor is it written as an encyclopedia of theological positions or propositional doctrinal statements. It’s written by men of God inspired by the Spirit of God who are going about their business of helping their fellow countrymen or brothers in Christ, recording history for the sake of future generations, or in the case of the Psalms, expressing in a poetic way their thoughts and emotions in their given situation.

This means that when we study the Bible in order to construct a good and true understanding of God, self, and the world around us, in a sense we have to reverse engineer the mindset and worldview of those writing the Bible, and distill propositional, doctrinal truth out of the things they say. This tells us something of the genius of God who used this method to write a book whose meaning would be understandable in all languages and cultures over the past 3,500 years, so that all men could read, understand, and be delivered from Divine judgment. By making the Bible sound nothing like a systematic theology, we can look at inspired truth in a variety of situations and settings and systematize the truths explicitly or implicitly stated. Continue reading “The Completing Joy of Fellowship, pt.1”

I am of Flesh, pt1

I am of Flesh”
– Paul, Romans 7:14

Calvin famously opens his Institutes this way:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.

Much has been written expounding the boundless glories which necessarily rise when pondering what God has revealed to us concerning Himself. But I find it fascinating that Calvin should assert that true and solid wisdom consists not only in knowledge of God, but also in knowledge of ourselves. Continue reading “I am of Flesh, pt1”

What is Job Thankful for on Thanksgiving?

First published Nov. 24, 2016

Thanksgiving, because it’s a yearly holiday, sort of lends itself to reviewing the previous year and giving thanks for the good things the Lord has done in our lives. Often it’s a remembrance of physical ailments overcome, occupational transitions accompanied by increased income, or other assorted and sundry triumphs.

But life is hard, and sometimes one arrives at Thanksgiving worse off than the year before. The diagnosis wasn’t good, the job didn’t come through, the marriage fell apart, the loved one died. And what I’ve noticed in years like that is the uncanny ability for the afflicted, the disappointed, and the frustrated to still be able to give thanks. Continue reading “What is Job Thankful for on Thanksgiving?”

Christian, If You Must Fight Your Brother, Do So, but Fight Fair.

there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another” Acts 15:39

The most famous intramural Christian quarrel in the Bible is probably the quarrel between Paul and Barnabas over whether or not to take John Mark along on their next missionary journey. It became so heated and severe that they parted ways over it. Fighting happens between the greatest of men, the most gifted of men, the sweetest of men (the Son of Encouragement) and the most humble of men (“by the grace of God I am what I am…”).

This isn’t an article to deal with how to avoid quarreling, because I’ve no doubt there’s plenty of material available for that. This is some thoughts about how one might actually quarrel, and quarrel well, even if it ends up with picking a new partner in ministry, or heading to a Mediterranean island with a rejected one. Continue reading “Christian, If You Must Fight Your Brother, Do So, but Fight Fair.”

A Spoonful of Sugar: Thoughts on Limited Atonement

For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Heb. 2:16, ESV

It’s often said in Reformed circles that everyone is born Pelagian, and by extension Arminian. If that’s the default starting point, Reformed theology is something a person reaches over time, when he/she begin to understand that God doesn’t do things like I would do if I were God. This is an understanding that comes from, at least in my case and the case of many more like me, the study of the Scriptures first, and secondarily the refreshing discovery that we are not alone in our understanding of the Bible’s portrayal of the sovereign grace of God.

But admittedly, until the sweetness of these doctrines washes over like a mixture of refreshing wave and ocean tsunami, the doctrines of grace, as they’re called, or TULIP for short, can be a rather tough pill to swallow, especially to those who don’t understand them well. They seem to portray a God who seems rather unbothered by trampling all over the free will of man Continue reading “A Spoonful of Sugar: Thoughts on Limited Atonement”

The Messy Must

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. -1 Corinthians 11:18-19

The church takes a lot of heat and often gains a rather poor reputation for her internal strife. After all, shouldn’t followers of Jesus be the most loving, kind, loyal, friendly, or, most of all, nice people in the world? It sure seems like it. Even the unbelieving world holds us to a higher standard of morality and loving our neighbor than they do themselves, and why shouldn’t they? Continue reading “The Messy Must”

Choosing Better, pt6

It is Better to Pursue Quality. Or Quantity.

For a day in your courts is better
        than a thousand elsewhere.
    I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
        than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Ps 84:10 ESV

Quality. Quantity. Which is better? Continue reading “Choosing Better, pt6”

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