You Search the Scriptures | John 5:39-40
When reading Scripture, if we do not see Jesus, then we are reading incorrectly. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day diligently studied Scripture yet did not recognize the embodied Word that spoke to them. They searched for God in His Word, yet God stood right before them unrecognized.
You search the Scriptures
because you think that in them you have eternal life;
and it is they that bear witness about me,
yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:39-40 ESV
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day held the Scriptures in high esteem. They believed them to be the actual Word of God, spoken into our dark and sinful world. They read the Bible, studied it, applied it, and obeyed it. Everything seemed correct.
Then came Jesus.
Jesus spoke into the world of these studious Jews and shook them to the core. In the midst of their in-depth studying, they missed the forest for the trees. They passionately searched the Bible because they thought that it would lead them to eternal life, to salvation. However, Jesus makes a bold claim. He says that all of Scripture is about Him; therefore, they should come to Him for eternal life.
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Finding the Right Hills to Die On: A Book ReviewBy Cody Barnhart — 2 years ago
A bulk of the book is dedicated to “performing” theological triage—particularly in the chapters dedicated to second-and-third-rank issues. Drawing on his journey through various theological positions, Ortlund models what it means to define the faith from a posture of humility.
Gavin Ortlund wants to make you a better boxer—or at least help you pick better fights.
He opens his book with an observation about fighting: “It is easy to lose your balance when you’re standing on one foot. The strongest posture is one of balance between both feet: one of poise. That’s why boxers put so much care into their footwork.”
Perhaps no other phrase embodies the task of Ortlund’s Finding the Right Hills to Die On than that of “theological poise,” and because of this, I think this little book needs to be bumped up to the top of your reading list. If it hasn’t come for your church yet, it’s likely on the way: doctrinal division lurks around the corner, and you’d be well-served to equip yourself with theological poise. Ortlund helps us do so.
A Tale of Two Impulses: Sectarianism and Minimalism
Finding the Right Hills to Die On begins with a section discussing the dangers of what Ortlund calls “sectarianism” and “minimalism.” Don’t get caught up in the vocabulary. What is suggested here is simple: doctrine is something we should divide over when appropriate; however, the church’s foundational call is to unity and peace with one another, secured by the blood of Christ. We should avoid both unnecessary division and unnecessary indifference.
Though a wide survey of healthy churches may find strong disagreements, “our love of theology should never exceed our love of real people, and therefore we must learn to love people amid our theological disagreements.” Even in instances where healthy disagreement occurs, we must remember that our primary interlocutors are not flesh and blood but the cosmic powers over this present darkness, as Paul writes in Ephesians 6.
Again, it’s about poise. Avoiding sectarianism and minimalism is not about avoiding disagreements altogether—it’s about understanding when and how we ought to disagree.
But if only some hills are worth dying on, how can we know we’ve chosen the right ones?
Strange Lyre: ConclusionBy David de Bruyn — 1 year ago
Evangelical worship has, for the most part, embraced the “religious feelings” of Pentecostalism. Not surprisingly, charismatic doctrine has begun to capture the theological minds of those who were formerly cessationists. It remains to be seen how much longer those churches that claim to be non-charismatic in doctrine will remain that way, if they persist in embracing the passions and sentiments of Pentecostal worship.
A good theologian once drew me a diagram of the progress of Christian doctrine and Christian history from the apostles to our day. He drew a rather jagged line, with offshoots and branches coming off it. He explained, “The line from the apostles to us today is not a straight one. It includes many errors, corrections, over-corrections and responses to those over-corrections. The line of orthodoxy therefore is never a perfectly straight line of descent, it is as jagged as all the movements away from and back towards orthodoxy. Along the way, there are genuine departures from the faith: actual heresies that veer off far from the faith: those are the far-flung branches breaking off from the jagged line. It’s important to distinguish when something is a true departure from the faith, or when it is a reaction within orthodoxy needing its own correction.”
The same line could be drawn for worship. Christian worship over the centuries has been the same jagged line of errors, corrections, reactions, overreactions and so forth. These have included controversies such as the use of musical instruments, the singing of psalms only or hymns and psalms, the question of ministerial robes, the presence of images in the meeting place, and several other disputes. Sometimes there have been genuine worship heresies: the worship of Mary as an intercessor, or the Mass as the body and blood of Christ available for the expiation of sins.
Where does Pentecostalism fall on these jagged lines? On the theological side, Pentecostalism’s errors are serious, though not fatal. That is, erroneous teaching on the Holy Spirit and the charismatic gifts represent significant deviations in the whole body of orthodox Christian doctrine, but they do not constitute a denial of the gospel. (That is, unless a proponent articulates them so, as in the man who says you must speak in tongues to be saved, or experience a baptism of the Spirit to be truly regenerate.) As long as Pentecostals profess the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, they remain brothers and sisters in Christ. However, errors are seldom stable things. They have trajectories, and the general trajectories of Pentecostal errors in the last century have been bad fruit: the Prosperity Gospel, the Toronto Blessing, and all the extremes that have accompanied those. A good tree brings forth good fruit, and so on.
How Discipleship is Like CookingBy Michael Kelley — 1 year ago
As we trust Jesus and follow Him, we can also feel the freedom of knowing that God has created us each individually, each with different personalities and traits, with skills and experiences all our own. All of these things come together in the actual fashion that we carry out Jesus’ command. In other words, we observe the guardrails, but we practice discipleship with some measure of individuality. And that is a wonderful thing.
I’m not a great cook.
Early in our marriage, I wanted to make boxed mac and cheese for dinner, and because we did not have any margarine in the cabinet, I substituted vegetable oil. The results were… slick.
Then, several years later, I accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder in a batch of pancakes I was putting together. The results were… sharp.
There have been other missteps over the years, but as with all things, they have become fewer and fewer the more I have practiced. In fact, I’ve even found in some cases that I don’t even need to use a recipe any more. Not always, but sometimes, I’m able to go off script. I can season according to taste or preference rather than following a step by step recipe. The ability to do that comes with time and experience; it happens through trial and error. Though the basics of cooking a dish remain the same, it can be adapted and customized based on the person cooking it and the people it’s being cooked for.
That, in some ways, is the way discipleship works.
If you look to the call of Jesus in Matthew 28, there are a lot of observations we can make about it:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
We can observe clearly that this call is rooted in the authority of Jesus, and that He doesn’t only command the task to be done but also promises His presence in doing it.