I was scanning through Tim Keller’s talks on YouTube and came across a talk he gave at Google. In the video below he argues that believing in God is more reasonable than not and then takes about 15 minutes of questions. Well worth watching, and an excellent example of the fruit of diligent study. We may not be called to answer hard questions about God at Google or Oxford, but chances are we are going to be asked questions like this by somebody.
Pareto’s principle states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our effort. Today I want to apply this principle to Christian discipleship, primarily the knowledge aspect. When I came to seminary, I planned to learn everything in the Bible so that I could teach everything to others. I figured the Bible is the word of God, given to us by God for a reason, and therefore necessary in all its aspects. It was in Gospels class that my plan was crushed. Dr. Agan pointed out that there is a giant chiastic structure in the middle of Luke’s gospel, running from at least chapter 10 through the beginning of 18. Luke groups the parables in an A B C C’ B’ A’ fashion. For example, the parable of the friend at midnight (11:5-8) pairs with the parable of the persistent widow (18:1-8). These parables relate different aspects of the same central idea and help to interpret one another. I realized that the Bible was much deeper than I had previously thought. It would not be possible to teach people everything, or even to learn everything in the Bible myself. Continue reading
Justin Taylor at the Gospel Coalition has provided a free chapter from the new book Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours. The chapter is entitled “Paul and Spiritual Warfare” written by Craig Keener. If you aren’t familiar with Keener, he is one of the top New Testament scholars in the world as well as a genuine Charismatic Christian (which gives him bonus points in my book). In this chapter he covers the armor of God in Ephesians 6, spiritual warfare in Ephesians, and Paul’s power encounters in Acts. Then he deals with the implications today. Well worth checking out.
I graduate from seminary in May. There is a break in the action at the moment, I turned in my thesis Wednesday, and so I finally have some time to write for pleasure. I have been reading about things like predestination, glorifying God, and common grace lately. When I was younger my friends and I had strong, nearly unshakable views on these issues, and yet reading the scholarly debates on these topics now, I realize that we had little idea of what we were talking about. Therefore, I want to write something to help those who are trying to learn the Bible, but aren’t sure how to go about it. I wrote a post with this title last June. Rereading it today, I’m actually quite happy with it, so I will repost it with a few tweaks: Continue reading
The 4 Views folks are putting out a book on the role of works at the final judgment. James Dunn and Thomas Schreiner offer two of the views, which should be worth the price of the book alone. I’m very excited about this book as the role of works in the final judgment is an important and little talked about area of theology. You can read more about it here.
Eckhard Schnabel commenting on Acts 2:4:
The verb “fill”…is a more intense form…Luke uses the aorist indicative form…with a genitive of divine Spirit to designate “short outbursts of spiritual power/inspiration, rather than the inception of long-term endowment of the Spirit,” a fact that explains why a person might be “filled with the Holy Spirit” on many occasions while at the same time remaining “full” of the Spirit.
Schnabel, Acts, p. 115. [… represent Greek words I have left out due to font issues.]
Keeping a place for both types of Spirit filling is very important to healthy Christian practice. Personally, this is one of my main criteria when selecting a church. If a church does not have a grid for repeated Spirit fillings, meaning repeated Spirit empowerment as in the quote above, that church is going to be forced to do some things in their own natural strength. Talent and good principles will only take us so far. While it is true that God sometimes gives us certain graces without our seeking or even being open to them, his normal pattern is to act in response to prayer. If believers don’t have a vision for repeated fillings of the Spirit they are unlikely to ask God for them, or seek ministry from those who can pray for that.
The Crossing in Columbia, Missouri is the best run church I’ve ever come across. I was reminded of all this tonight when I came across their website. It’s worth checking out as it reflects the same spirit of excellence as their services. Before moving to Covenant Theological Seminary, my family attended for six months to acquaint ourselves with the Presbyterian church, as we knew absolutely nothing about Presbyterians. I would guess 3,000 to 4,000 people attend, which is huge for a Presbyterian church. The main thing I learned there was how to lead a church with excellence. Their children’s ministry is so good that the church I attend in St. Louis uses their program even though it hasn’t been published. Their vacation Bible school program involves 1,000 people, most of the Christian kids in the city regardless of where they attend church. I don’t recall their band ever missing a note in the six months we attended. They tie their offering appeal to the sermon every week.
I’m posting this because we need to learn from people like this. I’m not Presbyterian, but they do many things better than I ever would if left to myself. Now by observing them, I can hopefully apply what is good in their model in a Charismatic church setting.