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Category Archives: Theology

Jack Gilbert’s Ordination Council

On Friday afternoon, we convened an ordination council at First Central Bible Church to examine Jack Gilbert, our church’s intern. We wanted to affirm God’s hand on his life and make sure he held to sound doctrine.

The ordination council consisted of:

  • Mark Wheeler, Senior Pastor at First Central Bible Church, Chicopee, MA
  • Stan Kulig, Joe Martin, Doug McVeigh, Doug Dolbow, Elders at First Central Bible Church
  • Brent Allen, District Executive Minister for Converge Northeast
  • Rich Ainsworth, retired Senior Pastor of Wintonbury Church in Bloomfield, CT
  • Jeff Chandler, Senior Pastor of Cottage Hill Church in Springfield, MA

The basis for the exam was an ordination paper that Jack wrote and presented to the council last month. Based on his paper, we asked him the following questions:

  1. Why do you want to be ordained?
  2. How does Simcha (Jack’s wife) feel about this process?
  3. Where are you in process of applying to SEND International?
  4. What will be your role with SEND in Spain?
  5. Why don’t we consider the Apocrypha books to be inspired?
  6. What principles do you use in interpreting Scripture?
  7. What Scripture translation do you use in preaching?
  8. What does “aseity” mean in relation to God?
  9. What does it mean that God repented and changed his mind considering that Scripture says God does not change?
  10. How do you reconcile all of God’s attributes with his love?
  11. How long did it take for God to create the world?
  12. How do you explain and/or balance Gods providence?
  13. Does Christ have a physical body in heaven? What difference does it make?
  14. What does it mean in Philippians 2 that Christ emptied himself?
  15. How can Jesus identify with us?
  16. Could Jesus sin?
  17. Was his temptation in Gethsemane real?
  18. What does it mean that Jesus became sin?
  19. How is the baptism of the Spirit different from the filling of the Spirit? Why is it not a second baptism?
  20. Does the gift of prophecy exist today?
  21. What does it mean that we are created in God’s image?
  22. What is the extent of the atonement? For whom did Christ die?
  23. How do you balance God’s sovereignty with man’s free will?
  24. How are regeneration and conversion related?
  25. Does being “drawn by the Father” refer to conviction?
  26. What elements of Calvinism do you disagree with?
  27. If you were to plant a church, what form of church government would you institute?
  28. What is the difference between a small group and a church?
  29. Can women serve as elders?
  30. What does it mean that baptism is an appeal to a good conscience?
  31. Would you baptize children?
  32. Can a Christian be possessed by a demon? What does it mean when Ananias (Acts 5) is filled with Satan?
  33. Can a person say, “the devil made me do it?”
  34. How would you work with others who hold a different conviction about the timing of the rapture?
  35. Is hell real? Eternal?
  36. Where do children go when they die? How would you counsel a young couple who lose a child?
  37. How do you decided what churches or denominations to work with?
  38. What is a shepherd? What does a shepherd do?

Throughout the exam, which lasted just under 3 hours, Jack demonstrated a command of the Scriptures and a commitment to sound doctrine. He passed the exam with flying colors. The members of the ordination council affirmed his call, character, understanding of Scripture and theology, and his clear communication. It was a very affirming and encouraging time.

On Sunday, June 11, we will hold a special evening service at 5PM to formally ordain Jack to the ministry of the gospel.

Congratulations, Jack! Keep up the good work.

 

Jack Gilbert’s ordination

Below is a letter sent to our congregation this week letting them know about the exciting prospect of ordaining one of our own people for ministry. Exciting things are happening at First Central Bible Church.

 

 

Christianity is Rational and Reasonable

Contrary to popular opinion, one does not need to check one’s brain at the door to believe in God. Rather, the truth of the gospel can be known and understood. That is the argument presented by the apostle John in his first letter. Throughout 1 John, the apostle uses two Greek words for knowing to emphasize that the true knowledge of God is available to all.

1 John

Text

Commentary

2:3 This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. There is no assurance apart from obedience.
2:4 The one who says, “I know him,” and does not keep his commands is a liar, and the truth is not in them. There is no true knowledge of God apart from obedience.
2:5-6 This is how we know that we are in him: the one who says, “I remain in him,” ought also himself to walk just as that One walked. There is no true knowledge of God apart from discipleship.
2:13 Fathers, I am writing to you because you do know the One who is from the beginning. Christian maturity entails personal knowledge of the eternal God.
2:14 Little children, yes, I write to you because you have known the Father. Fathers, yes, I write to you because you have known the One who is from the beginning. To be a child of God and to become a mature Christian means to know God truly.
2:18 Children … even now many have become antichrists, and so we know that it is the last hour. Knowledge of God provides discernment.
2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know also that everyone who lives righteously has been born of him. True knowledge of God is the basis for Christian ethics.
3:1 For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know him. “The world” is all those who do not know Jesus.
3:6 Everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. True knowledge of God requires obedience.
3:16 In this way we have known love, because that One laid down his life on our behalf. True knowledge of God allows true love.
3:19 This is how we will know that we are of the truth. Assurance requires true knowledge of God—that One “belongs to the truth.”
3:20 … whenever our heart convicts us. For God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything. True knowledge of God allows us to put our guilt to rest.
3:24 In this way we know that he remains in us: from the Sprit, whom he gave to us. True knowledge of God requires the Spirit.
4:2 In this way you know the Spirit of God. True knowledge of God requires true knowledge of the Spirit.
4:6 We are of God; the one who knows God hears us, [but] whoever is not of God does not hear us. True knowledge of God means accepting the teaching of his apostles.
4:7 Everyone who loves has been begotten of God and … knows God. True knowledge of God motivates love.
4:8 The one who does not love does not know God. True knowledge of God motivates love.
4:13 In this way we know that in him we live and he in us: because he has given to us of his Spirit. Assurance requires the Spirit.
4:16 And we have known and have trusted the love that God has for us. True knowledge of God means we know God loves us.
5:2 So this is how we know that we love the children of God. Assurance requires love.
5:20 We know that the Son of God has come and he has given understanding to us to that we might know the True One. We cannot know God truly apart from knowing the Son of God.

Chart taken from Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1, 2, & 3 John. By Karen H. Jobes. Grand Rapids, MI: 2014, p.239-240.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2017 in 1 John, Quotes, Scripture, Theology

 

Are heaven and hell real?

Book Review: Answering the Toughest Questions about Heaven and Hell, by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

What happens when we die? Are heaven and hell real places? If God is loving, how could he send anyone to hell? Have you ever wrestled with questions like these? Have you ever wondered where to find the answers to these and other questions about the afterlife?

Authors Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz encourage their readers to ask tough questions and wrestle with doubts. In this volume, Answering the Toughest Questions about Heaven and Hell, they asked the young adults from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA, to articulate their most important questions about heaven and hell. They then grouped the questions into broad categories which provided the ten chapters and four appendices for this book.

  • Is there an afterlife?
  • What happens when you die?
  • Are heaven and hell for real?
  • Can I believe what the Bible says about the end of the world?
  • Do all roads lead to heaven?
  • If God is loving, how could he send anyone to hell?
  • Is hell a divine torture chamber?
  • How do you get into heaven?
  • What will heaven be like?
  • How can I be sure about heaven?
  • Will there be animals in heaven?
  • Can my loved ones in heaven see me?
  • Will there be rewards in heaven?
  • Are near-death experiences for real?

In answering the questions, the authors combine humor, illustrations, real-life stories, and philosophical arguments. After exploring the questions from various angles, they always ask, “What does the Bible say about this question?” The result is a practical, helpful, biblical exploration of some very real questions.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Books, Heaven, Scripture, Theology

 

Finding unity in the gospel

Book Review: Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie that Binds Evangelicals Together, by R. C. Sproul

In the late 90’s, evangelical theologians and Roman Catholic scholars tried to find common ground in order to promote unity. They worked together to craft a document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) and a subsequent document, The Gift of Salvation (GOS). Rather than promote unity, it tended to divide evangelicals.

R. C. Sproul was one who was deeply concerned about both of these documents. He wrote the book, Getting the Gospel Right: The Tie that Binds Evangelicals Together. It was originally published in 1999 and has been repacked in 2017. In part 1, he explains the background of the controversy and the need for unity on the meaning and details of the gospel. In part 2, he analyzes The Gift of Salvation (GOS) in detail and points out the flaws. In part 3, he analyzes a document entitled, The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration. This document was crafted in an attempt to restore evangelical unity regarding the gospel and justification by faith alone.

While the book is short, 226 pages, it is meaty, weighty, and detailed. If you can work your way through it, you will come away with a more accurate understanding of the gospel and why it is important to “get it right.”

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Books, Theology

 

The Good News of the Gospel

Book Review: The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teaching, by John MacArthur

“Salvation is a creative work of God, not a do-it-yourself project for sinners.” While that quote sums up John Macarthur’s perspective on 2 Corinthians 5, it could summarize the message of his latest book, The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teaching.

The approach of the book is to use

some of the principle evangelistic texts from Paul’s New Testament epistles, we will survey the gospel as Paul proclaimed it. We’ll consider several important questions, including: What is the gospel? What are the essential elements of the message? How can we be certain we have it right? How should Christians be proclaiming the good news to the world?

As Dr. Macarthur explains in the introduction,

My design in this book is to explain the most important gospel texts from Paul’s epistles as clearly and as thoroughly as possible. I hope to underscore (as Paul did) the eternal importance of gospel doctrine and the absolute necessity of getting it right.

In Chapter 1, “Things of First Importance,” Dr. Macarthur uses 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 to lay out the basics of the gospel, including the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In Chapter 2, “First, the Bad News,” he uses Romans 3 to stress that all have sinned and no one seeks God. Chapter 3, “How can a Person Be Right with God?” uses a question posed by Job to illustrate the dilemma we all face. Chapter 4, “Sola Fide” explains that we are saved by faith, not by works. Chapter 5, “The Great Exchange” deals with the doctrine of substitionary atonement. Chapter 6, “Alive Together With Christ” describes the power and results of the resurrection. Chapter 7, “The Lessons of Grace” compares grace and legalism. In the appendices, Dr. Macarthur includes four sermons preached on these topics along with a glossary of terms.

For those who are concerned that Dr. Macarthur overemphasizes Calvinism, he offers an explanation and a balance.

We have stressed the sovereignty of God in salvation because that doctrine stands out prominently on the face of this text (2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s an amazing and counterintuitive truth. After all, God is the offended deity. But reconciliation for sinners comes at His instigation, through an atonement that He sovereignly provides. (p. 91)

God’s sovereignty does not eliminate human responsibility. God holds us responsible for what we do and don’t do, and it is perfectly just for Him to do so. He doesn’t control human actions by constraint. (p.92)

Just as God’s sovereignty doesn’t eliminate the sinner’s responsibility, likewise the plea for sinners to “be reconciled to God” poses no actual contradiction to the fact that God is the One who sovereignly draws those who do respond to the plea. (p. 93)

…the point to grasp here is that no one is compelled by force or coercion to reject the gospel message. They do it freely, by their own choice. Those who turn away in unbelief are therefore wholly responsible for putting themselves under God’s condemnation. (p.94)

The book will stretch your thinking on the topic and give you a much better understanding of the doctrine of salvation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Books, Scripture, Theology

 

What the Bible says about heaven & hell

Book Review: What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death, by Randy Frazee

If a friend on their death bed asked, “Is belief in Jesus enough to get me into heaven?” how would you respond? That question was posed to pastor and author Randy Frazee by his mother. While he answered his mother with a confident, “Yes,” the question bothered him enough to do a thorough study of the Scriptures. The results of his study are explained in his latest book, What Happens After You Die: A Biblical Guide to Paradise, Hell, and Life After Death.

Pastor Frazee deals with the five most important questions about life after death.

  • Is Jesus enough to get me into heaven?
  • What happens if I die without Christ?
  • What happens if I die with Christ?
  • What happens if I don’t know Christ when he returns?
  • What happens if I do know Christ when he returns?

In addition, he also answers questions such as:

  • Are there such things as ghosts?
  • Are our loved one in heaven watching over us?
  • Is there such a thing as purgatory or Limbo?
  • Are there different degrees of hell?
  • Can we earn wings?
  • Will rewards be given out?
  • Will there be pets in heaven?
  • Will we keep our memories or regrets from life now?
  • Will there be marriages and family in God’s new kingdom?
  • What will our resurrected bodies be like?
  • What will we eat?
  • What will a day in the life on the new earth be like?
  • Do we have guardian angels?
  • Is it okay to be cremated?
  • What about people making predictions about the return of Christ?
  • What about life-after-death and near-death experiences?

As Frazee explains in the opening chapter, the book was born out of a deeply personal search for truth after his mother’s death. Throughout the book, he attempts to separate what is simply cultural tradition from what is truly biblical. He explains not only the death Jesus came to save us from but also the life he came to save us for.

The book is very helpful and encouraging. It clearly explains what Scripture says about what happens after we die.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Books, Heaven, Scripture, Theology