Saturday, April 2, 2016

Theological Fitness: Part Ten

This is the last chapter, "Active Rest", of Aimee's fine book, Theological Fitness, and I am full of things to write for the Sunday after Easter--tomorrow. Of course not as many people will be in church the Sunday after Easter as the above graphic shows. And, those who follow "the regulative principle" will certainly cringe. My church in Florida of which I am a member does observe that principle. But I moved. How I am attending a Reformed church (EPC) that studies TULIP and the Confessions, but also does an Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday with foot washing, some years Good Friday, probably always Easter Sunrise and to top it off had a flash mob that joined the choir for the "Hallelujah Chorus" last week on Easter. Even though I am a senior citizen, I have never had the cross on my forehead and had my feet washed in a service until this year. My worship has been heightened! It is pure legalism if I look to those services for salvation, but I do not. Worship means ascribing worth to our LORD. The visual and physical expressions of faith are not my idols, but a way to celebrate the cross and resurrection. 

Hebrews 10:23-25

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope

without wavering,

for He who promised is faithful.

And let us consider one another

in order to stir up 

and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as is the manner of some,
but exhorting one another,
and so much more as you see the Day approaching."

Having moved to a new city (Huntsville, Alabama) and meeting new people, I am so surprised by the "minimalist Christians"*, maybe also called "evangelical" by the politicians. They do not practice that assembling and accountability of the church. One new friend watches TV preachers religiously and only! 

Again, Aimee Byrd's questions from the end of her book are in red and my answers are in black

1. Has this chapter changed your thinking about proper rest?   For instance, when we consider how the Lord rested after creation, how does that affect your understanding of rest?  I notice that especially since I am a senior citizen I need to take advantage of Sabbath rest. Rather than feel guilty, I have finally realized, Sabbath rest is proper. 

2. What is the relationship between rest and fitness, both physically and spiritually? We recover physically and spiritually through rest. In other words how does something that seems so counter-productive factor in to our conditioning and stamina? Have you every seen the Gaither's on TV? Lots of those saints, I am afraid to say, need physical conditioning. We recover physically and spiritually through rest. 
3. What is your relationship to work? I am semi-retired and finishing up a seminary counseling dissertation on dementia caregiving.  How does the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday under the new covenant represent the way we should think about work? We are looking for the rest to come as we celebrate His resurrection EVERY Sunday. Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament law. 

4. When you consider the rest that we have now and the eternal rest that is to come, does that make any difference to the way that you view your typical Sunday?   Having read Randy Alcorn's Heaven I look forward to the eternal worship of God.  What are your thoughts about how we should observe the Sabbath?   I need to wake up and make it special! Instruction in adult Sunday School or teaching of Sunday School, corporate worship and fellowship with believers specifically are part of my Sunday. Often I eat out after worship with believers from the church. My special day! 

5. Do you ever find yourself striving for validation from sources that could never satisfy? Absolutely! I have to guard against pride in areas of my life.

6. How do we strive for rest?  I think we need to plan for Sunday as we plan for our work week. We need to wake up Sunday morning and enjoy the day--it is a celebration of His resurrection just as much as an Easter celebration is a celebration. Every Sunday is special.   

7. How is being a "summoned being" related to being in a covenantal relationship with God? Not sure of the word liturgy, but really like what Aimee wrote on p. 183. 
Yet thinking about the emotion that validation brings, I remember that there is a reason for this longing--we will be validated in Christ. Once day, all those covered in his righteousness will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." We crave validation because we should. We hear that blessing every week in the covenant renewal ceremony of Sunday worship. But on that great day, we will hear God himself say that he is pleased with us. And he will be our great reward.
What, then, is the significance of theological fitness in this liturgy? 
What is this eternal rest that we anticipate? Is it merely inactivity? As we learn about the Sabbath, we see that Christ is our rest. In one sense, rest is a place. Verses like Hebrews 4:1, 3-5, 8 and 10 use Greek words that can be translated "abode"or "to colonize". The context here reminds us of the land of Canaan that was to be the Israelite's rest, as well as the rest of God after creation. On Sunday, Christ's covenant community assembles together in a local place for worship. Here we are given Christ and all of his benefits. (p. 183-184 of Theological Fitness)

Carol, here,
just as excited about the Sunday after Easter

*Heard that term at Ligoneer in February--see last blog post. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ligonier Conference on The Gospel

My new friend Esther
I had the privilege of attending most of the annual Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida, February 25-27, 2016. I met Esther there, when we both helped with registration. Hectic the first day with registration, but we were able to attend most of the conference after that.  I called her the missionary to America from Kenya. She had become a Christian by reading the book of Romans. We tried to sit together when we could. Once she texted me to “hasten”, not a word I am used to using. She also used “fortnight”, not an English word I use often if at all. The lunch submarine sandwiches were not a hit with her, but that was what was offered on our meal ticket. It would have been foolish to go out to eat and then try to get back because the parking lot was SO full.

I have written other blog posts about Ligonier: 2010 2012 2014  But for this post I want to give you some of my favorite quotes although you can hear the whole thing HERE.

Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on “God’s Design for Male and Female”: Gender is part of God’s goodness. God does have a design—deal with it. In a panel discussion Mohler also noted (perhaps not the exact quote):

                                                       God is not the author of evil.        
He triumphed over it.
The Gospel is not plan B.
He ordained everything.
Evil exists for God’s victory
Over it shows His glory.

I listen regularly to Mohler’s podcast. I am amazed by his podcasts on a Christian view of the news. He said incidentally that if he had to write a script for it, there wouldn’t be a podcast. He just puts newspapers out and speaks! Parents teach children to read the newspaper, he said.

In addition to Mohler, I was totally charmed by the British accents of speakers such as Ian Hamilton, and Michael Reeve. One  could hear the theology, and their enthusiasm was electric!
For example, in the charming accent Dr. Ian Hamilton said,

  • ·       Calvinism is deeper than five truths. TULIP shouldn’t be elevated above pleasing God.
  • ·       Calvin cherished God’s grace.
  • ·       Live a life that acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
  • ·       Grace puts God on the throne and us at His feet where we belong.
  • ·       The Reformation was about the right worship of God.

Author/blogger/pastor Tim Challies said, learn to use the best (of the digital explosion) for the gospel. I appreciate that he signed his book for me when the line was done and I thought it wouldn't happen. He caught my pouting when the signing was disbanded by conference personnel and came back to sign The Next Story, a updated and expanded book of the first edition that I also have. Hope to review this on this blog after my second draft of my dissertation is done.The verse he chose after his signature is Romans 12:2.

Greg Koukl founder and president of Stand to Reason suggested asking secular people two questions:

1.     What do you mean by that?
2.     How did you come to that conclusion?

A new document was distributed and I took some with me for my Florida and Huntsville pastors.You can read it HERE.

Discussing the statement were R. C. Sproul, Michael Reeves, Stephen Nichols. Derek Thomas, Ian Hamilton and Chris Larson moderator.

R. C. Sproul concluded this excellent conference by noting:
1)     The Gospel is about Jesus Who lived a sinless life and died for us.
2)     You can’t improve the Gospel . It was
In the mind of God
Executed by Christ
Applied by the Holy Spirit
3)     The Gospel must be received in repentance.
4)     We must never mess with the Gospel because it is His Gospel.
5)     The Galatians were bewitched by teaching another gospel. We must not shame it, be hostile to it or soften it. The gospel is not your personal testimony—that is pre-evangelism. It is NOT God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life or God loves you unconditionally.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Theological Fitness: Part Nine

Do you ever wonder why Reformed people have to squabble? I do. I long for gracious, quiet growth that is in accord with Scripture, and accountable to our LORD. Why Are Some Reformed People Such Jerks gave me pause for thought HERE. Also, Dr. Eyrich, whom I heard recently on how he studies Scripture, and whose book, A Call to Christian Patriotism, I have reviewed on this blog, recently wrote about blogging HERE

One more blog post for this book follows and then perhaps I will write about the subject of my dissertation.  

1. If the weight of our expectations is based on the promise of God, what is the extent of our confession of hope for our eternal condition?   He is faithful who promised according to Hebrews 10:23.   Is this hard for you to believe sometimes? Yes Explain. I get caught up in my inadequate feelings.     How does focusing on this expectation affect the way you live today? His promises are trustworthy and my hope is secure.

2. How does understanding Scripture in relation to a covenant treaty affect your perspective in reading it, or in sitting under God's Word being preached? Aimee answers this on page 161-162: A better understanding of the covenants God has made with his people gives a better understanding of Scripture and the character of God himself.

3. How is a covenant treaty different from a love letter? It can’t be broken.

4. Do you have any issues with Adam representing all mankind in his obedience and disobedience?  No.  Explain how this federal representation for salvation actually benefits us. This leads us to Christ. Works will not lead to our redemption.
  5. Read Exodus 19 and 20 and consider this covenant given on Mt. Sinai. In what way or ways is this a gracious covenant? The Ten Commandments started out as the righteous gracious way the Israelites were to live and eventually this law pointed to Christ. People just added to it or didn’t keep it. It is now the means of salvation, but God graciously send Christ.
6. Does the covenant of grace reveal any unnecessary expectations that you may be putting on yourself?  I can never live up to the expectations of others or of myself. I am at times miserable at what I cannot fulfill—hard on myself.  Why is it important to recognize how Christ met and fulfilled every demand of the law?  Because He is my hope. How can this realization help us in our own obedience?  My redemption is taken care of. I do not have to struggle, but persevere and pray.