19 May

Theological Controversies

What is the Bible’s authority on theological controversies?

Theological controversies, unfortunately, have been and will be a mainstay in this fallen world until the end of the age. The unregenerate man will always suppress the truth in unrighteousness, becoming futile and foolish in his speculations (Romans 1:18,21). As for the regenerate man, Paul says that in this current age our reason and understanding are still like seeing in a mirror dimly, leaving us only partial knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:12). Given these Scriptures, it’s no wonder that theological controversy is common.

In thinking about theological controversies, it is helpful to break them down into two categories: controversies outside the Bible and controversies within the Bible. Controversies outside the Bible are those debates arising out of life to which we turn to the Bible for answers. Some examples are: should persons be medically assisted with suicide?; should abortion be legal?; should we as a nation go to war?; should government have a certain authority?

Every one of these examples has a theological component to them. In other words, the Bible speaks to these issues, making them controversial theologically.

Controversies within the Bible are those debates about the Bible itself. These controversies have to do primarily with interpreting the Scripture. Examples would be: is Dispensationalism a biblical doctrine?; does the Bible teach conditional or unconditional election?; what does 1 Peter 3:21 mean? Given that people interpret the Scriptures in different ways, variations of opinion form, and controversies arise over the Bible.

So, we now turn to the question. What is the Bible’s authority on theological controversies? Plain and simple, the Bible itself is the only means by which all theological controversies are settled. It is not church creeds, councils, or declarations. It is certainly not human reason or pragmatics. Everything must bow to Scripture. Again, given that the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible, authoritative Word, we turn to nothing else. What higher counsel could we turn to? There is none because the Bible is the highest authority.

With that said however, it is important to note that a sound hermeneutic (or method of interpretation) must be utilized. First, I would argue that the grammatical-historical method is the orthodox approach. By this term, I declare that the meaning of the text is tied to the author’s words and intent, which were given at a particular time and occasion in history. In doing so, we will be careful to let our interpretation be formed out of the text (formally known as exegesis) instead of reading our interpretation into the text (formally known as eisegesis). Second, I would argue that Scripture must be used to interpret Scripture (formally known as analogy of faith). Sure, we must be careful to rightly interpret these other relevant texts, but since the Bible never contradicts itself due to its inerrent/infallible nature, we should rely on the rest of Scripture to help us interpret any given text.

The Bible rightly interpreted will settle all theological controversies and is the only proper place to turn. The question is: are people in theological controversy willing to come under the authority of Scripture? I pray so. Then and only then will we present ourselves approved to God as workmen who do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

19 May

Biblical Infallibility & Authority

What is the relationship between infallibility and authority?

Infallibility and authority have been hot topics of debate in theological circles for several centuries. Let’s start by defining these terms. The doctrine of biblical infallibility is the belief that the Bible is true and reliable in all matters it addresses, including assertions and denials. In other words, it will never lead us astray. If the Bible says that it is true then it is true, and if the Bible says that it is false, then it is false. Infallibility is synonymous with the term “inerrancy” and proceeds out of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of inspiration. Since God cannot lie (Romans 3:4; Titus 1:2) and since the Scripture is fully God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), it is the right and reasonable conclusion that the Bible is without error, making it true and reliable in all matters it addresses.

The doctrine of biblical authority is the belief that the Bible has the supreme right to command a belief and/or action. By supreme right, I mean that there is no higher word than the Scripture. Therefore, it demands pride of place. All churches and individuals must bow to Scripture. It is God’s standard for belief and action to the point that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. We see this truth demonstrated throughout the Scripture but particularly in the following texts:

·Isaiah 66:2, “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

·John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”

So, what is the relationship between the two? I would argue that the Bible’s infallibility is the grounds for the Bible’s authority. In other words, the Bible has the supreme right to command what humanity is to believe and to do because it is 100% true and reliable, and it is 100% true and reliable because it is 100% God’s Word. It will not, in fact cannot, be falsified. The Bible is the truth. Therefore, we had better believe and do what it says if we want to please God. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” On that day of judgment, Scripture will be the standard by which we will be judged. May we be found living under its authority.

18 May

25 Reasons Children Are a Gift from God

God is certainly a good God who has given us so many gifts. One of the greatest gifts that God has given us is children. They are for His glory and for our godliness. I’ve got to confess that God has done a major work in my heart concerning children. It’s not that I used to think ill of them. It’s just that my mind had not been shaped by God’s Word concerning children. Read Psalm 127:3-5:

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

God says that children are gifts from Him and that a man whose quiver is full is blessed. I certainly desire to be blessed. May we all seek the blessing of God through children.

So, jumping off of v3, I began to brainstorm ways that children are a gift from the Lord. Here’s my list. It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s not even a top 25. It’s just 25 of many, many others. I pray that you would praise the Lord for children.

Children are a gift of the Lord because:

  1. God’s Word says they are.
  2. They provide a front row seat to view the miracle of procreation.
  3. They are one of God’s instruments working humility in us.
  4. They are an opportunity to impact the world long after we die.
  5. They are one of God’s instruments working patience in us.
  6. They are one of God’s instruments working selflessness in us.
  7. They are our God-designed social security.
  8. They are another person made in the image of God.
  9. They demonstrate the type of dependence on us that we should have upon God.
  10. Their amazement with creation is contagious.
  11. They illustrate that we are all works in progress.
  12. They provide joy even on the dark days.
  13. They are a wonderful opportunity for making marriages stronger.
  14. They are a great reason to get married.
  15. They are a catalyst for our prayer life.
  16. They push us to trust in the sovereignty of God.
  17. They are one of God’s instruments working maturity in us.
  18. They exemplify our fallen nature and our great need for a Savior.
  19. Their sweet smiles melt cold hearts.
  20. They are God’s promise that life will go on.
  21. They show us we really don’t need as much sleep as we thought we did.
  22. They display unconditional acceptance no matter skin color.
  23. They push us toward a good work ethic.
  24. They make marvelous mud pies.
  25. They are Jesus’ example for how we are to approach God.

I have thoughts on each of these and would love to talk more about them with you. May we praise the Lord for the blessing of children!