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Category Archives: Theology

My Convictions About the Role of Women in the Church

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about the Role of Women in the Church

Scripture affirms that women are equal with men as image-bearers of God and in their personal standing before God and the church (Geneses 1:27-28; 5:1; Psalm 8:4-8). In the following areas, men and women share a personal equality: 1) Salvation by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:18-19); 2) Co-heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7); 3) Equality in the new creation (Galatians 3:28); 4) Indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9b); 5) Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); 6) Standing before God (Romans 5:1-2); 7) Men and women are interdependent (1 Corinthians 11:11-12); 8) Access to God in prayer (1 Corinthians 11:4-5); 9) Nurtured by the Word (1 Peter 2:2); 10) The priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5); 11) Receiving spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 27-31; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10-12).

While Scripture teaches that men and women are equal, it also teaches that within the church there is a basic pattern of functional order in which men are given headship—the task of leadership, and women are to be subject to this leadership (as are men who are not designated leaders) (1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:26; 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:9-15). These role distinctions are the result of God’s established order in creation and the principle of headship (Genesis 2:21-22). In addition, they find their pattern within the Trinity where a functional subordination is practiced by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit even though they are equal to God the Father.

Scripture also demonstrates that women have unique and significant ministries to fulfill along with men in the church because they are gifted with the same spiritual gifts as men. There are no gender distinctions in the distribution of spiritual gifts. The office of elder or pastor is not open to a woman (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6), but as with a man, she can exercise her gifts without holding this office. The Scriptures indicate that a woman may participate actively in corporate worship, but she is not to teach or engage in activities in which she has authority over a man or men in this sphere (1 Timothy 2:12).

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2018 in Church, Scripture, Theology, Women

 

My Convictions About Social Drinking

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Social Drinking

I believe that Scripture does not condemn drinking (John 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 5:23), but rather drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1; 23:35; Ephesians 5:18). However, I believe alcohol, tobacco, and drugs should be avoided because they can control a person (1 Corinthians 6:12). While I may feel I have the freedom to drink, I choose not to because I don’t want this issue to become a stumbling block for others (Romans 14:1-15:7).

 

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2018 in Scripture, Theology

 

My Convictions About Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

We live in a culture where the institution of marriage is under attack. Marriage is not valued and divorce is prevalent. As a pastor, I feel a responsibility and a burden to help people understand what Scripture says on this topic. The goal is not to heap guilt on those who have experienced the pain of divorce. Rather, I want to help affirm the sanctity and permanence of marriage so as to help build strong marriages and prevent future divorces.

The institution of marriage was created by God in order to display his glory to the world and to provide joy for his creatures. It provides a glimpse of the covenantal love of God for his creation.  The roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives reveal the relationship of Christ with the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Marriage was divinely instituted by God from the very beginning. According to Genesis 2:24-25, a marriage exists in God’s sight when a man leaves his parents, cleaves to his wife, and becomes one flesh with her.

The marriage union is exclusive (“a man . . . his wife . . .”), publicly recognized (“leaves his parents”), permanent (“cleaves to his wife”), consummated by sexual intercourse (“become one flesh”) and leads to intimacy (“naked … not ashamed”). It is a covenant relationship between a husband and wife and between the couple and God.

In principle, marriage is a permanent, lifelong union. Because God is the one who joins a man and wife together, no one should attempt to tear them apart (Mark 10:9).

Because God instituted marriage, he considers divorce a breach of covenant, an act of “treachery,” and something which he “hates” (Malachi 2:16).

Divorce is a violent act that tears people, families, and communities apart. Since marriage is designed to reveal God’s goodness, glory, and faithfulness, anything that disrupts a marriage—division, discord, divorce—should be taken very seriously and avoided.

Before discussing the possible situations when divorce might be allowed, it should be noted that divorce is nowhere commanded nor even encouraged in Scripture. While divorce was allowed, it was not prescribed or commanded. Since divorce was present in the Old Testament, Moses provided guidelines for how to handle divorce in order to protect the “innocent” party (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

In Matthew 19:8, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 24. He explains that Moses permitted, but did not command or require divorce. Divorce was merely a concession necessitated by individuals whose hearts were hard. Rather than seeking a divorce as the easy solution, repentance and reconciliation are always the best options. Even when divorce is possible in some cases, working towards reconciliation within the context of a faith community is always preferable.

Regardless of the symptoms of marital strife, the root cause is always sin and pride. It is always one or both spouses’ rebellion against God. Both spouses must respond to the gospel by faith and repentance. Thankfully, God has provided reconciliation with us through the person of his son, Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17-6:1 speak of this reconciliation.

Since marriage brings together two imperfect people, it is a challenging endeavor that must have Jesus Christ at the center of the union. It requires the constant practice of love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, and humility that were displayed in the person and work of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins in order to reconcile us to God.

As stated previously, divorce is never the best option. However, Scripture indicates that there are two circumstances in which divorce is permissible after all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted.

First, an innocent person may divorce his/her partner if the latter has been guilty of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32).

The term for “sexual immorality” is a broad one that includes things such as adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality. In the case of adultery, the offended spouse is encouraged to offer forgiveness and restoration (though it might be a difficult and slow process). In the event that reconciliation is not possible, the offended party has the freedom to be released from the marriage.

Secondly, in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, Paul discusses a situation where a believer is married to an unbeliever. The guiding principle is that the believer should not initiate the divorce if the unbeliever is willing to stay in the marriage. However, if the unbeliever refuses to remain in the relationship and chooses to desert the marriage, the believer is therefore free.

In the case of unrepentant and continued abuse, the abused is encouraged to immediately separate for the sake of safety and is also expected to inform the elders of First Central Bible Church. The elders will attempt to work with both parties in the hope of bringing about repentance and reconciliation. While we might counsel separation, we would not counsel divorce as it does not meet the criteria for a biblical divorce.

For all divorces which have occurred for reasons other than sexual immorality or an unbeliever deserting the marriage, the expectation for both parties is to pursue reconciliation. Until reconciliation with the former spouse occurs, both spouses are to remain unmarried as indicated by 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.

Where Scripture permits divorce, it presupposes the right to remarry. In addition to remarriage being allowed in the two situations mentioned above, a partner may remarry when their mate has died (1 Corinthians 7:39).

As a pastor, my responsibility is not to be preoccupied with divorce and its grounds, but rather with marriage and its institution. Because God’s purpose is marriage, not divorce, my teaching on marriage must begin with God’s plan for the permanence of the marriage relationship. However, when an individual has gone through a divorce, whether for biblical or unbiblical reasons, I must minister to them at their point of need. In such a case, the shepherding of the individual is essential, with the hope that the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation would take root. Even when the marriage covenant is broken, it should not lead automatically or necessarily to divorce, but rather be an occasion for caring instruction on the duty and way of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation. Ultimately, my counsel must start and finish with the understanding that the foundation of a healthy marriage is a right relationship with God, with Jesus Christ at the center.

 

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in Marriage, Scripture, Theology

 

My Convictions About Homosexuality

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Homosexuality

Scripture never approves any form of sexual love within a homosexual relationship. The prohibition against homosexuality is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). In the Old Testament, homosexual behavior (or even the threat of it) incurs God’s judgment (Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Judges 19).

As a pastor, I must minister to the homosexual in the same way that I would to any other person; admonishing them to repent and helping them to understand homosexuality can be cured through new life in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17). (The difficulty comes in accepting them as a person apart from their problem.) I must help them to understand that repentance and conversion to Jesus Christ does not normally free one from homosexual urges, but that this orientation may continue to plague them even as a Christian. Along with the gospel’s demand for change comes the promise of strength through the Holy Spirit. As with other areas of life, it is not wrong to be tempted, but it is sin to give in to the temptation and to practice the behavior. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that one can practice self-control in any area.

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2018 in Scripture, Theology

 

My Convictions About Abortion, Infanticide, and Euthansia

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Abortion, Infanticide, and Euthanasia

Scripture teaches that man is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), that he has a special place in God’s eyes (Psalm 8:4-8), and that human life is sacred (Genesis 9:5-7). Scripture offers abundant evidence concerning the status of the fetus. God is actively involved in the embryological process (Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:24; 49:1, 5), a sin nature is present from the moment of conception (Psalm 51:5), and we are known to him before we are ever formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). In the New Testament, Luke uses the same word “brephos” of an unborn child (Luke 1:41, 44) as he later uses of the newborn baby (Luke 2:12, 16) and of the little ones whom people brought to Jesus to bless (Luke 18:15). The fetus is not a developing human, but a human with potential. Under the Mosaic Law, both the mother and the unborn child were afforded equal protection (Exodus 21:22-25).

Abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are all a great moral evil. Since the violent taking of innocent life is murder, and since abortion and infanticide are accomplished by violent means, it is tantamount to murder. Adoption is a better solution to the social problems that find abortion an easy answer.

 

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in Scripture, Theology

 

My Convictions About Eschatology (Future Things)

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about About Eschatology (Future Things)

Throughout history, God’s purpose has been to establish his kingdom forever and to destroy the kingdom of Satan. God has enacted his program of redemption “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6). Both Israel and the Church are part of God’s overall kingdom (Revelation 11:15).

At the ascension of Jesus, his return was predicted by angels (Acts 1:11). Christ’s return is imminent and could happen at any time. The first phase of his return is the rapture of the Church, which occurs at the same time as the resurrection of the righteous (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The rapture will precede the Tribulation Period (Revelation 3:10).

I hold to the Pretribulation Rapture for the following reasons. They build upon one another and the strongest one is the last one. (1) The church is mentioned in Revelation 1-3, and 19-22. It is not mentioned in 6-18 when God judges the world. (2) Believers are exempt from God’s coming wrath, the time known as the Great Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:10). (3) Paul excludes believers from the Day of the Lord and the outpouring of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). (4) In the letter to the church in Philadelphia, God says that they will be kept from the hour of trial (Revelation 3:10). (5) The doctrine of the pretribulation rapture should be a comfort and encouragement to believers (1 Thessalonians 4:18). (6) The doctrine of imminency –1 Thessalonians 1:10 supports the imminent return of Christ, that he could return at any moment.

While I personally hold to a pretribulation view of the rapture of the church, I recognize that there are good arguments for the mid-tribulation and post-tribulation viewpoints. In addition, I consider the timing of the rapture as a non-essential issue of theology, and one where believers can agree to disagree without breaking fellowship.

The Tribulation Period is the seventieth week of Daniel 9:27, a seven-year period in which God will go forth to punish a God-rejecting and Christ-rejecting world. During the first three and one-half years, the antichrist will establish a covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27), but will break the covenant midway through this period at a time known as the “Abomination of Desolation” (Matthew 24:15). God will then send judgments (Revelation 8, 16) upon the earth. The armies of the world will meet at Armageddon for the final battle (Revelation 16:14, 16), and Jesus Christ will return visibly with his saints (Zechariah 14:3-4) to judge the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and establish his kingdom on the earth (Revelation 20:4-6).

After his return to the earth, Christ will reign from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4) and will establish a kingdom of justice and peace for one thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). (In an earlier post on Scripture, I explained that I practice a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic in interpreting Scripture. I believe that this practice leads to a premillennial interpretation of Scripture. The repetition of the phrase, “then I saw” in Revelation 19 & 20 leads one to conclude that Christ will return prior to establishing his millennial kingdom. Consequently, I am not open to a post-millennial or amillennial approach to eschatology.)

During this time, Satan will be bound (Revelation 20:2-3), and afterwards be released briefly in order to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:7-8). He will ultimately be thrown into the lake of fire and tormented forever (Revelation 20:10). God will then judge the unrighteous dead at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15) and cast unbelievers into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). With the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13), the eternal state will be ushered in.

 

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2018 in Scripture, Theology

 

My Convictions About Angels, Demons, Satan, and Spiritual Warfare

When I was ordained to the ministry in 1988, I had to write a paper stating my views on a number of areas of theology—Scripture, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Man, Salvation, Church, Future Things, Angels & Demons, Spiritual Gifts—as well as several current issues—Marriage & Divorce, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Drinking, and the Role of Women in the Church. When I transferred my ordination to the Evangelical Free Church in 2005, I had to rewrite the paper. Since people periodically ask me questions about these areas, I think it is time to restate my convictions about what Scripture says on these issues.

Here are my convictions about what Scripture says about Angels, Demons, Satan, and Spiritual Warfare

Angels were created by God (Psalm 148:5; Colossians 1:16) before the earth was created (Job 38:7). Their original state was one of holiness (Jude 6). They are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) who possess intellect (1 Peter 1:12), emotions (Luke 2:13), and will (Jude 6).

Demons are fallen angels who revolted against God and followed Satan (Revelation 12:7-9). They are well-organized (Ephesians 6:12) and follow their leader, Satan. They attempt to thwart the plan and purpose of God (Daniel 10:10-14; Revelation 16:13-16). Their permanent destiny is to be cast with Satan into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41). A true believer in Jesus Christ can be oppressed but cannot be possessed by demons.

Satan is a created being (Ezekiel 28:13-15), and “anointed cherub” who revolted against God (Isaiah 14:13-14). His plan and purpose is to establish his own kingdom of evil and he is the ultimate cause of sin and of evil in the world. He is a person who was cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14), and who opposes God’s people and work (Matthew 4:1-11; Ephesians 6:12). Although he is cunning and powerful (2 Corinthians 2:11), he is limited in that he can only do what God permits (Job 1:12; 2:6). He was defeated at the cross by Christ (1 John 3:8) and his permanent destiny is the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Victory over Satan comes by realizing that he is an already defeated foe (1 John 4:4), by putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and by applying the finished work of Christ (Hebrews 2:14).

The issue of spiritual warfare is one where believers often go to extremes. At the one extreme, we underestimate the enemy or ignore the reality of spiritual warfare completely. We blame all of our problems on natural causes. At the other extreme, we place an overemphasis on the subject and see a demon behind every bush. (There is a grave danger in getting our theology from popular novels, whether it is our theology of demons and spiritual warfare from Frank Perretti’s books or our theology of end times from the Left Behind series.) We blame all of our problems on the Devil and see every simple challenge as “spiritual warfare.”

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2018 in Scripture, Theology