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Theology
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Tag: Theology Ordering

Five Solas

We affirm the five “Solas” of the Protestant Reformation. SOLA SCRIPTURA - The Bible alone can bind the conscience of believers and is infallible, inerrant and sufficient. SOLA FIDE - Justification is by faith alone.  The merit of Christ imputed to us by faith is the sole ground of our acceptance by God. SOLUS CHRISTUS - Christ is the only mediator through whose work we are redeemed. SOLA GRATIA - Our salvation rests solely on the work of God’s unfathomable grace for us and in us. SOLI DEO GLORIA - To God alone belongs the glory.

Doctrinal Statement

We believe the Bible is the written word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error in the original manuscripts. The Bible is the revelation of God's truth and is infallible and 
authoritative in all matters of faith and practice.

We believe in the Holy Trinity. There is one God, who exists eternally in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We believe that all are sinners and totally unable to save themselves from God's displeasure, except by His mercy.

We believe that salvation is by God alone as He sovereignly chooses those He will save. We believe His choice is based on His grace, not on any human individual merit, or foreseen faith.

We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who through His perfect life and sacrificial death atoned for the sins of all who will trust in Him, alone, for salvation.

We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells God's people and gives them the strength and wisdom to trust Christ and follow Him.

We believe that Jesus will return, bodily and visibly, to judge all mankind and to receive His people to Himself.

We believe that all aspects of our lives are to be lived to the glory of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Book Review: "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer

Book Review: "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer

J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, Second Revised Enlarged Edition. Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2005, 256 pp.

reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

There are a number of books that provide a theology of the work of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, there are also a number of books that critique the charismatic movement, pointing out its excesses and disputing its biblical foundation.  However, it is rare to find a book that both affirms that God is at work in the charismatic movement and also rejects the major claims of that very same movement.  But in “Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God”, J.I. Packer has done just that.  In just 200 pages or so, Packer lays out a positive theology of the work of the Holy Spirit and issues challenges to both cessationists and charismatics.  So what will you find inside?  Let me give you an overview.

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What do you believe?

Please see our What We Believe section.  If you would like to know more, please contact us directly.

 

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Sola Scriptura vs Sola Experientia

Sola Scriptura vs Sola Experientia

Many Christians today use human reason to determine the meaning of their personal experiences more than they use the Bible.  Many who do so would deny that they are doing so, and often times they are aided in that claim by pastors and preachers who have torn some Bible verses out-of-context in order to “prove” that a certain experience should be validly interpreted in a certain way.  In response to this trend towards forming beliefs based on experience rather than Scripture, some other Christians raise the cry of “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone), harkening back to the return to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible which was championed at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

But sadly, this call to “Sola Scriptura” is often misunderstood to mean that experience has no place in the Christian life.  That is blatantly false.  Both today and in the Scripture, experience is an essential and valid part of the Christian life.  But the value and meaning of experience all depends on what we use to interpret our experience. 

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Caitlin is Baptized

This past month, we had the joy of having Caitlin baptized, welcoming her into the covenant community of the Christian church.  Baby Molly, the daughter of our friends Chris and Paige was baptized at the same time.  A fellow missionary videotaped the event and I include it below.  The video is all in Thai and I am afraid that I haven't had time to add English subtitles.

 

If you have trouble viewing the above video, you may watch it directly on Vimeo.com

 

 

Pastor Natee, who did the baptism, had some really helpful comments about the nature of baptism that got me thinking.  First, people are baptized not because of what they have done but in recognition of what God has done.  Therefore, in the case of people who come to Christ and are baptized as adults, they are baptized in recognition of God's work in their life, regenerating their heart and granting them faith and repentance.  They are baptized because it is evident that God has chosen to bring them into the fold of the Christian church.  Baptism welcomes them into the visible church because God has already brought them into the invisible church. 

 

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Joshua's Baptism

This past Sunday, we had Joshua baptized. It was wonderful to see Joshua formally recognized as a part of the covenant community of God's people at Grace Presbyterian Church. I know that Joshua will remember none of it, but he was as content as could be as I held him in my arms and Pastor Ron asked us the appropriate questions and sprinkled his little forehead. God has given his covenant promises to his people, both adults and children (Acts 2:39), and as Joshua grows up, he will be reminded that the waters of baptism signify God's promise to wash away the sins of all who trust in God, confessing Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

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Book Review "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer

Book Review "Keep in Step with the Spirit" by J.I. Packer

J.I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God, Second Revised Enlarged Edition. Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2005, 256 pp.

reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

There are a number of books that provide a theology of the work of the Holy Spirit. Likewise, there are also a number of books that critique the charismatic movement, pointing out its excesses and disputing its biblical foundation.  However, it is rare to find a book that both affirms that God is at work in the charismatic movement and also rejects the major claims of that very same movement.  But in “Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in our Walk with God”, J.I. Packer has done just that.  In just 200 pages or so, Packer lays out a positive theology of the work of the Holy Spirit and issues challenges to both cessationists and charismatics.  So what will you find inside?  Let me give you an overview.

Read more...

Why John Wesley Didn’t Use the Altar Call

Why John Wesley Didn’t Use the Altar Call

Debate concerning the altar call often falls along Calvinistic and Arminian lines, but to reduce it to a case of Calvinists versus Arminians is a bit too simplistic... and historically inaccurate. 

 

In his book, “The Altar Call,” author David Bennett looks at the ministries of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and John Wesley.  All three are widely acknowledged as successful evangelists who saw many come to Christ, yet the first two were Calvinists and the third an Arminian.  However, as Bennett documents, none of them used the altar call or any other form of public invitation to produce Christian conversions.  While listeners would sometimes approach these preachers to inquire about salvation, these men did not issue public or private calls for people to indicate their conversion by an external response of some sort.  These men preached about law and gospel, counseled people, and left the results to God.1

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Why Ann Judson Didn’t Go Crazy Like Dorothy Carey

Why Ann Judson Didn’t Go Crazy Like Dorothy Carey

When Adoniram and Ann Judson set sail for India in 1812, they had no idea of the hardship that lay ahead of them.  After being denied access to India, they sailed to Burma.  On the way there, their first child was born on the ship.  He was stillborn and buried at sea.  Their second child, Roger, was born in Burma.  He died before his second birthday.  Their third child, Maria, was born while Adoniram was being held in a Burmese death prison under suspicion of being a British spy.  After he was released to interpret between the British and the Burmese, his wife Ann died, and two months later baby Maria followed her to the grave.  Adoniram poured himself into his translation work to drown the pain, but eventually fled to the jungle to live as a recluse, contemplating death.  But he did not go over the brink.  God returned him to useful service in Bible translation and itinerant evangelism, keeping him faithful to the end.  What kept Adoniram and Ann going in the midst of such hardship and repeated devastating loss?  Why did they not go crazy under the pressure and grief like Dorothy Carey did?

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The Right Attitude Toward Theological Opponents

The Right Attitude Toward Theological Opponents

During the past couple months, I’ve had several long discussions in Facebook comment threads about a certain televangelist who was coming to Thailand to put on a big event in Bangkok.  The brothers and sisters who commented on my posts had various different approaches, both as to their thoughts on this man and his ministry, and also in their tone and manner of discussion.  Sometimes the comments were helpful and furthered meaningful discussion.  But, as anyone who has spent much time on Facebook can tell you, some comments were not so helpful.  But one thing became clear: the attitude you have towards others and the way you say something matter just as much as what you say.

In light of that, I found the following testimony about Asahel Nettleton’s attitude towards those with whom he differed to be rather instructive, and a good reminder.  Nettleton, if you are not familiar with him, was an early nineteenth century evangelist whose Calvinistic preaching resulted in many revivals with lasting fruit as he itinerated throughout New England and the mid-atlantic states.  His theology and methods came into direct conflict with those of Charles Finney and his followers.  Biographers Bennet Tyler and Andrew Bonar, contemporaries of Nettleton, said this about him:

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The Prosperity Gospel - Right Promises, Wrong Timing

The Prosperity Gospel - Right Promises, Wrong Timing

As a new believer, I learned that one of the major reasons the Pharisees opposed Jesus was because they were expecting a military and political Messiah who would conquer the Romans and physically set up the kingdom of God on earth.  But Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom (“The kingdom of God is within you” Luke 17:21). And that’s why there was a lot of confusion and opposition on the part of the Pharisees and other people.  At the time, that was a helpful explanation.  However, as I have continued to read and study the Bible over the years, I came to see that maybe those folks who thought Jesus came to set up a physical kingdom were not so far off.  If you read the Old Testament prophets, it often sounds like the Messiah will set up a physical kingdom where everyone will be healthy and happy.

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Discernment, Thai Culture, and the Traveling Prophets

Discernment, Thai Culture, and the Traveling Prophets

One of the great strengths of Thai culture is the high value placed on maintaining the peace.  Social harmony is very important to Thai people.  You don’t get upset at bad drivers or pushy salesmen.  You don’t have an argument in public.  You avoid saying things that would embarrass other people or make them feel bad.  In many ways, this value on maintaining social harmony and good relationships makes Thailand a wonderful place to live.  

But there is also a downside.  Feelings get hurt and people never forgive each other.  Injustice, error, and corruption run rampant and are swept under the rug.  Leaders at all levels abuse their power and no one says anything.  Sin is winked at and everyone pretends that everything is okay when they know it isn’t.  The need for holiness and reconciliation is one the great challenges facing the Thai church today.

When the Prophet Comes to Town...

Into the midst of this cultural milieu come the traveling prophets.  Teachers like Joyce Meyer and Cindy Jacobs parachute in to Thailand and receive huge venues to speak to the Thai church.  They are big names in many evangelical and charismatic circles in America but are relatively unknown in Thailand.  But they quickly become known as their big show event is promoted broadly in the small Christian community in Thailand.  It is big.  It is exciting.  And it is “Christian.”

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How the Devil Counterfeits the Creative Power of God’s Word

How the Devil Counterfeits the Creative Power of God’s Word

The Devil has never had an original idea in his life.  Ever since before the creation of man, the Devil has been imitating God in a bid to be God himself.  Even when it comes to the creative, life-giving power of God’s Word, the Devil tries to copy it.But what is that creative Word that the Devil imitates?The Word of God is creative in that it creates out of nothing.  God’s Word is not merely powerful.  It is power.  When God says something, it just happens.  If you or I say, “Let there be light”, nothing happens.  But when God says it, light is created.  When Jesus wanted to calm the storm (Mark 4:35-41), all he did was say a word, “Peace, be still!” and it was calm.  In a certain sense, we might say that when God speaks a word, it is magic.  The word itself has power to bring into being that which it signifies.  But my words and your words are just signs that point to some other reality.  They don’t create anything.  The word of the Devil is the same.

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How Biblical is Preaching?

How Biblical is Preaching?

guest post by James Steer

 

I’ve recently been studying various passages of 1 and 2 Corinthians to better help me understand Paul’s theology of preaching. One passage that has particularly struck me is 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5 for in it Paul argues that the message of Christ crucified (that is, the content) and preaching (that is, the form) go hand in hand – that they cannot be divided. Indeed, in this passage Paul actually argues for preaching.

 

In 1 Cor. 1:17 Paul is continuing to address the issue of divisions in the Corinthian church, by minimising his role of baptising, and stating that Christ’s commission to him was to “preach the gospel.” However, for Paul it matters how the gospel is proclaimed. Therefore, he refuses to preach with “eloquent wisdom” (ESV). Literally the Greek of this phrase is “the wisdom of a word,” and refers to the use of Greco-Roman rhetoric. (This was a particular form of oration popularised by Cicero and Quintillian, in which the aim of a speech was to “persuade an audience, the end is to persuade by speech” (Cicero, On Invention 1.6), that is, to create belief. To do this an orator would so adapt and craft his message (content, style and delivery), that it would bring about the desired end with a given audience. Therefore, Greco-Roman rhetoric is a form of speech or proclamation. It is a form that Paul rejects because it would render the cross of Christ void (1:17), since a person’s faith would rest on human skill in oration rather than on the Spirit’s power (2:4-5).

 

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Book Review: "Love Wins" by Rob Bell

Book Review: "Love Wins" by Rob Bell

Rob Bell, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” (New York, Harper One, 2011)

 

reviewed by Karl Dahlfred

 

When the controversy over Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” exploded on the blogosphere prior to its release, I quickly realized two things, 1) This is going to be big, and 2) I need to read this for myself.  A lot of what I heard about “Love Wins” made me concerned.  But I wanted to make my own evaluation rather than rely solely on the judgment of others.  So I read the book.  My goal was to listen to what Bell is actually saying and make a balanced assessment of both the good and the bad.  There are lots of other reviews out there, some of which give much more analysis than I do here.  But for the sake of those who have not read the book, the goal of this brief review is twofold - to give a summary the most significant points, and provide a brief evaluation of those points.

 

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Did the Baby Jesus Cry?

Did the Baby Jesus Cry?

In the middle of the classic Christmas hymn, “Away in the Manger”, there is this one line that doesn’t quite ring true.  The second stanza tells us, “The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes, But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.”  Did baby Jesus really not cry?  The hymn author was likely thinking that Jesus did not cry because He was perfect and divine.  But does a crying baby Jesus detract from Jesus’ divinity?  I think not, but a non-crying baby Jesus detracts from his humanity.I see no inherent conflict between Jesus being God and Jesus crying as a baby.  Crying is not necessarily sinful.  If a child cries when it is hungry, tired, or just plain uncomfortable, is that wrong?  No, that is just the way that God made us.  However, there is also selfish, sinful crying, which does manifest itself from infanthood because we are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5, Eph. 2:3).  

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Book Review: Living in God's Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen

Book Review: Living in God's Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, by David VanDrunen (Crossway Books, 2010, 208pp.)----- reviewed by Karl DahlfredShould Christians be transforming the culture?  Is there a specifically Christian way of being a teacher, politician, or businessman? Is there a difference between what individual Christians are called to do, and what the church is called to do as an institution?  What is the “kingdom of God” and what does it mean to do “kingdom work”?  These are some of the questions that drive David VanDrunen’s recent book on two kingdoms theology.  The term “two kingdoms” is unfortunately not very well known outside Reformed and Lutheran circles.  This is a real shame because I found the two kingdoms, as VanDrunen lays it out, to be a helpful and Biblical framework for understanding the relationship between Christianity and culture.  And the world of evangelical Christianity certainly needs more thoughtful reflection on how to approach culture as a whole.

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Death is Wrong

I knew my eyes were deceiving me but I wanted the deception to be true.  I was standing before my father as he lay on a small raised platform, legs covered in a blanket. His chest was moving up and down, almost imperceptibly, as one breathes quietly when asleep.  But there was no breathing.  No motion. It was all in my mind.  This was not the stillness of sleep, but of deathA week earlier I had learned that he was in the hospital.  A few days after that I learned that this may be sickness unto death.  And after hurrying to pack up our family, arrange our affairs, and get plane tickets, here I was with my father.  

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Theological Education and Preparing for Missions in the Muslim World

Theological Education and Preparing for Missions in the Muslim World

In response to my recent post on "Do You Need a Bible Degree to be a Long Term Missionary?", I received the following testimony of a theological student who found his training to be surprisingly relevant on a trip to the Muslim world.  For those who are considering doing missions in the Muslim World (or elsewhere), and wondering whether their Western course of theological studies will really help them, Chris' experience should be a helpful encouragement:

 

"In June 2009, after one year of academic study on the "Theology and World Mission Course" at Oak Hill Theological College, London, I jetted off to a Muslim-majority country for a summer of overseas gospel ministry.  As I sat on the 13-hour flight, it was easy to imagine the potential payback of classes I'd taken on Mark's Gospel and the Pentateuch.  But, what of the other subjects: abstract, academic and arduous?  Would trinitarian theology, critical modern scholarship, Hebrew and Greek pull their weight as well?  Or would they turn out to be no more than expensive excess baggage?

 

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