THIS IS AMAZING NEWS!!! Someone finally did it. A Church where you can “HAVE IT YOUR WAY!”
THIS IS AMAZING NEWS!!! Someone finally did it. A Church where you can “HAVE IT YOUR WAY!”
“Evangelicals, once associated with an uncritical, anti-intellectual state of mind, have in the last several decades reentered the academy.” Over the years, the evangelical movement has been criticized for not being academic and philosophical. As a result, many haven’t taken evangelicals seriously. Enter Awakening the Evangelical Mind, the story of how the evangelical mind awoke.
In the early twenty-first century, Alvin Plantinga is a world-famous philosopher. Not long ago, toward the end of the twentieth century, he emerged as one of the most prominent intellectual spokespersons for theism. A tall, wizened, bespectacled man, Plantinga publicly tangled with “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins, was profiled by the New York Times, and occupied an endowed chair at the University of Notre Dame. On the campus featuring “Touchdown Jesus,” few would have mistaken Plantinga for a football player. But he had established himself as a cagey competitor in the realm of worldview conflict. Plantinga often deployed his theories of “possible worlds” and “properly basic beliefs” with a slightly mischievous look on his face. He seemed to relish the opportunity to defend Christianity before its philosophical detractors. (Read more)
TITLE: Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament
AUTHOR: Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
PUBLISHER: Kregel Publications, 2015, (176 Pages)
“Much of the current antipathy to the Old Testament seems to have begun as early as the middle of the second Christian century with a ship owner named Marcion who died around 154 AD”(9). Marcion was probably the first in history to disassociate the two testaments of what was to become the Bible preferring the latter over the former. The Church of course disagreed vehemently seeing the New Testament as a harmonized compendium to the Old Testament. This distinction between the two testaments has been an issue of contention ever since.
Part of the reason for this disassociation is the interpretation that the “God of the Old Testament” is a very different God from the “God of the New Testament”. Old Testament scholar Walter C. Kaiser Jr. addresses these fundamental and perceived discontinuities in his book Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament. Here Kaiser confronts some of the most challenging questions head on from a Biblical perspective. Some of the questions that Kaiser address are:
The book offers some interesting insights and provides much food for thought. In addition every chapter ends with discussion questions making this volume ideal for an individual reader as well as a study group. If you haven’t looked into these issue before Tough Questions about God and His Actions in the Old Testament represents an excellent start point.
RATING 3.5 Stars
This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Publication in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.
Week of October 18, 2015
Bible Verses: Daniel 1:3-5; 8-20.
The Point: Live your life with uncompromising conviction.
Staying Dependent upon God: Daniel 1:3-5, 8-20.
 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility,  youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.  The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king.
 But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs,  and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.”  Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,  “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”  So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days.  At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food.  So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.  As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.  At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.  And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king.  And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. [ESV]
This passage can be a challenge to understand. Our immediate response to the text might be to question Israel’s exile. Reason tells us that Israel’s exile is problematic since they were God’s special people of the covenant. If in fact they are God’s special people then how is it that God would allow them to be exiled under a pagan king? The answer is found in Leviticus 26:14-46 (rf. Deut.4:27; 28:64). In short obedience was required under the covenant of works. The law was to be kept to receive covenant blessings but transgressions warranted covenant curses. In this case Israel’s disobedience called them to fall to the Babylonians. This passage is a fulfillment of prophecy found in 2 Kings 20. Lacking in faithfulness to God king Hezekiah attempted to establish political ties with the Babylonians in order to protect Israel from the Assyrians. This act of unity with pagan kings severed the covenant between God and Israel. Daniel along with others were called upon to be educated in literature and language so that he could help assimilate the people of Israel into Babylonian culture.
Notice that it wasn’t the education that defiled Daniel but the diet. Daniel was probably keeping to the dietary laws of Israel and did not want to partake in Nebuchadnezzars table for fear of partaking of meat that had been sacrificed to pagan deities or things unclean. As a result God honored that and as for Daniel and his friends “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
When you think of this passage and Daniel you can’t deny a certain respect for him and his friends for having the conviction of keeping the dietary laws and not being defiled. But, it is an over simplification to look at this passage and say “be like Daniel.” If that were the case we would all be defiled since we today are a culture of assimilators. The point behind the law was to teach us that our inability and point us to a Savior who didn’t abolish the law but fulfilled it and passed the righteousness that He earned on to us as a free gift.
However, having said all of this we must ask ourselves the question “what do we do when we receive a free gift?” We respond in gratitude and we show our gratitude with obedience. There are a number of things in our culture that trap us and defile us. Our response should always be to have CONVICTION and abstain not because of laws that Jesus had already fulfilled for us, but because of our gratitude to Him for what He has done and thus we too will find favor with God and be blessed.
We must realize that the communications media function much like the unelected federal bureaucracy. They are so powerful that they act as if they were the fourth branch of government in the United States. Charles Peters, editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly, in his book How Washington Really Works, writes that the media, instead of exposing the “make believe” of the federal government, are “part of the show.”
Television (and the communications media in general) thus are not only reporting news, but making it.
H/T Tony Reinke
Week of October 11, 2015
Bible Verses: Revelation 21:1-8.
The Point: A life in Christ means a life with Christ forever.
The New Heaven and the New Earth: Revelation 21:1-8.
 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” [ESV]
The book of Revelation is actually a letter written by John while imprisoned on the island of Patmos to a persecuted church. It is an exhortation to stay the course in the face of adversity up to the possibility of death. In this letter John demonstrates the history of redemption beginning with the coming of the Messiah and concluding at the end of the age. It is only after Revelation chapter 20 (where John describes the final judgment 20:11-15) that he discusses our new home or heaven.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”. Here John makes a big distinction between two completely different orders of things. What we know as the “first heaven” is the state of affairs that we experience today. It is characterized as “fallen” or corrupt. Something interesting here, many Bible teachers when they read the words “new heaven and a new earth” immediately register in their minds a second earth. Maybe it is because they are following John’s order of a “first heaven and the first earth.” While that is understandable it is not what John said and we shouldn’t automatically assume it. The Greek words that John uses are καινὸν καὶ γῆν which has to do with a different kind or type of thing meaning that the new heaven and earth is different from the current heaven and earth. The present heaven and earth is temporary and will perish. The new heaven and earth belong to the age to come which is eternal.
John “saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared
as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Here John refers to this new heaven and earth as the new Jerusalem. You can reference Isaiah 52:1 which speaks of a time of restoration at the end of the messianic age. This is what John is seeing in his revelation of the new heaven and earth the new Jerusalem which at this point in Revelation is made up of believers. It is the actual Kingdom of God fully realized in its complete manifestation.
This actualization or realization as I referred to above is the reality that we as believers so desire to see. As we wait in anticipation in a fallen and sinful world that is full of pain, suffering, cruelty, we long to hear the words, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God (3)”. John tells us that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (4)” and God is making all this new (5).
Here it is. This is the culmination and completion of our salvation. These words of being God’s people and He being their God are remincent of God’s covenant promise made to Abraham (Genesis 17) and extended out to all his covenant people as many as there are stars in the heaven (Genesis 15). Here promise as become fulfillment, type and shadow have become a reality as God dwells with His covenant people who are forever fully redeemed and glorified. This is the reality of the “promise land” that had been spoken of as God’s people had finally entered in and enjoy the true Sabbath rest.
“And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” In short God is sovereign above all things in this world. Not just things present but things since the beginning through things yet to come to include the new heavens and earth.
“The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” As with all covenants (promises) there are covenant keepers and covenant breakers. The severity of this covenant is the second death. Those who are in Christ keep the covenant of grace and those who reject Christ will be judged on the basis of the law which no man but Christ can survive the scrutiny of the law.