Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

The Grace Effect

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Theology

“The true story of a little orphan girl who prays that God would give her parents and the family that overcame the odds in order to adopt her.” Sounds like a trailer from a Hallmark Christmas movie, right? But buyer beware, although there is a happy ending, this book will engage the mind and soul as much as the emotions. In The Grace Effect, Larry Taunton weaves together a convincing and practical apologetic for Christianity using the thread of common grace (or lack thereof) observed during his experience adopting Sasha, a 10 year old girl who lived her entire life in Ukrainian orphanages.

Common grace is defined as God’s benevolence toward all mankind without discrimination. It is described by Jesus in Matthew 5:45 – “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Beyond sun and rain, God dispenses this grace more personally through His sons and daughters. We are encouraged to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” The practical result of this is that the effects of common grace should be most observable in areas where there are higher concentrations of authentic Christians. This is what Taunton calls “The Grace Effect.”

What are the benefits of a Christian presence in society? What happens to a society that adopts atheism as its official ideology? The author probes these questions by sharing his observations of life for an orphan in a former communist-block country. The book provides just the right amount of history and philosophy to support the main point without devolving into an unreadable, academic textbook.

Taunton is founder and Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, an organization dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith in the public square. He regularly debates strident atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens while at the same time extending God’s love to them. This book, while not light reading, is engaging and inspiring. Sasha’s story includes a shocking revelation that will leave you with a fresh realization of God’s amazing grace – the one who is the adopter of the unadoptable.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Advertisements

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Theology

The message of the gospel is clear, salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

What about repentance?

Repentance from what? All sins? Do you know them all? Before Christ came, the Jews practiced a baptism of repentance which was accompanied by a confession of sins (Mt.3:1-12). Even the Pharisees participated in this baptism which provoked John to warn them of the baptism that was to come. The problem with viewing repentance as necessary for salvation is that the “heart is wicked and deceitful and who can know it?” (Jer.17:9) Even the Pharisees thought they were justified by repentance as they confessed “all their sins”.

This deceitfulness of self-righteousness is illustrated in Christ’s encounter with the rich, young ruler.  He demonstrated how useless it is to depend on your ability to self-evaluate your righteousness. Mt.19:16-22. The man was undoubtedly a good, moral person. He felt that he had done what he needed to do to achieve righteousness. But after a 30 second encounter with Christ, he went away disturbed. Christ pointed out one major flaw in the man’s bid to achieve righteousness. While it was not necessary to continue, I’m sure Christ could have listed many more.

Seeing that the man was deluded in thinking that he would be saved by his works, Christ explicitly said “if you wish to be perfect go and sell everything.” The intent of the Law was to make clear the degree of perfection required for one to achieve righteousness by works. Christ mad this clear in His first sermon as he restored the Law from the dumbing-down that it had suffered at the hands of the Pharisees. (Mt.5:20; 5:48)

Repentance is not a precursor to salvation as it is a work. And, as is made clear by Paul, (Gal.2:16, 3:11) you can’t be justified by works.

Repentance is not becoming someone that I am not. It is coming to terms with who I am. Is it necessary to repent in order to be saved? The answer is yes and no. If you understand repentance as a change of behavior than the answer is no. Expecting someone to change their behavior in order to be saved is salvation by works. If you understand repentance as coming to terms with who I am – a helpless sinner in need of a savior – then yes, that kind of repentance is necessary.

Read the story of the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50.

“Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

May 21 – Doom’s Day?

This is the prediction of Harold Camping, President of Family Stations, Inc., a company that owns radio stations around the world.

To arrive at the date, Camping creates a formula using 2 Peter 3:8 and Genesis 7. God spoke to Noah in Genesis 7:4 warning him that the flood would come in 7 days. Although God fulfilled this promise of destruction, Camping believes that it was also prophetic of the judgment to come. He applies 2 Peter 3:8 – “…a day is like a thousand years” to come up with a formula of 7,000 years from the day of the  warning God gave to Noah. Adding 7000 years to 4990 BC brings us to 2010, add 1 year to compensate for  the changeover from B.C. to A.D and voila – 2011.

But how does he know that the flood occurred in 4990 BC? He claims to know it “by careful study of the Bible” with no further explanation.

His prediction of May 21 is based on his claim that it corresponds to the day the floods began on the Biblical calendar – the 17th day of the 2nd month. May 21 does in fact correspond to 17 Iyar which is the second month in the current Jewish calendar.

Camping believes that his method of interpreting scripture is right and that every church in existence today is wrong.

What Is A Maundy?

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Theology

Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. Do you know why it’s called Maundy Thursday? As it turns out, there is some controversy as to the origination of the name. Some say it is derived from the Latin word mandatum which is the first word in the Latin translation of John 13:34.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”

These were the words spoken by Christ at the last supper which is traditionally believed to be on a Thursday.

Others believe the term comes from the Latin word maundsor which is the name of the baskets used to collect money for the poor on this day of the holy week.

Which one is correct? Christ commanded us to love one another. Giving to the poor is an expression of love. I say both Maundys.

Happy Easter!

How does a team get to the Super Bowl?
Is one pro football team really better than all the others?
It’s not completely a matter of  superior talent. It’s more about perseverance and the ability to corporately stay focused on the goal in the midst of all the distractions.
The audience of this letter are a people who have had their share of distractions. While trying to maintain faith in Christ, they have encountered persecution. The author, like a good coach, continues to try to rally them to stay focused on the goal. He does it by reminding them of the fundamentals – throwing and running.
Vince Lombardi, before the start of the 1959 season reminded his players of this by standing in front of them with football in hand, saying “gentlemen, this is a football.” Lombardi knew that championships require focus and a committment to doing the fundamentals well.
Throw off everything that hinders.
What are the hinderances to our walk with Christ?
Run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
How does an athlete gain endurance?
How does a Christian? Look at the word “exercise” in 1 Tim.4:7; Heb.12:11

Wordle: Hebrews

Created with Wordle

http://www.wordle.net/