Today, Kevin DeYoung posted tips to help you choose the right seminary that I want to pass along to you. Quite helpful. To his list I would add “How Will You Fit At the Seminary?” The trouble with recommending a seminary for charismatic believers is I don’t know any top seminaries that are charismatic. Therefore, DeYoung’s question Have you thought about the tradition you want to be a part of? doesn’t have an obvious answer for us charismatics. What you have to do then is find a solid school that will, at the very least, accept you as you are. I’m solidly in the Reformed camp at this time, but historically the Reformed church has been cessationist. If you pick a staunchly Reformed seminary, they might not accept you, even if you present good support for your beliefs. Personally, I can recommend Covenant Theological Seminary having graduated from there myself. They were extremely supportive and helpful, even the professors that completely disagreed with me. If Covenant doesn’t work for you I’d check out Trinity, Gordon-Conwell, or RTS. Before picking RTS, though, I would confirm their position on charismatic believers as they seem to lean more conservatively Reformed than Covenant.
John 1:14, 16-17 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Was Jesus gracious when he talked about final judgment by works or spoke of those who don’t use their talents being thrown into hell (Mat 25)? Was Jesus a legalist when he intensified our understanding of God’s requirements? Was Paul gracious when he wrote over 300 commands to believers or warned them of judgment or told the church to hand a believer over to Satan?
The most common Biblical interpretation error I come across is setting one truth against another. For example, some like human freedom and so diminish God’s sovereignty and vice versa. Some are excited by the truths of Christianity but are wary of emotion. Some are moved by the emotional side of the faith but are suspicious of doctrine.
Correct understanding allows us to embrace all truths simultaneously, even the ones that initially seem to be in tension. In fact, a good check of the quality of our thinking is how often we come across verses that challenge our doctrine or that require us to perform tricks to conform them to our understanding.
Justification through grace by faith alone is awesome. Jesus dying a terrible death so that sinners like you and me can become part of his family is breathtaking. We must always teach and celebrate these truths. But we must also praise God that he tells us what he expects of us, how we will be judged, empowers us to live holy lives, and warns us when we are going astray. These are gracious too, and our understanding of grace isn’t complete until it makes room for them.
This morning I listened to a message by Mike Bickle on cultivating devotion to the Lord. One thing he emphasized was putting ourselves before God’s word on a consistent basis, instead of trying to approach God in a blank, mystical way. He noted that we can read through the New Testament every month by reading ten chapters a day, six days a week. The reading should be done prayerfully, as opposed to trying to simply get through it.
I wondered if this approach could be expanded to the Old Testament (OT). At first I didn’t think so as it has 929 chapters. However, if you break the OT into sections – law, narrative, wisdom, and prophecy – this method works well. The chapter breakdowns are below:
Section # of Chapters
10 chapters a day, 6 days a week equates to 260 chapters a month on average, which is enough for each of these sections.
Have you heard of spaced repetition? It’s an important learning technique. Briefly, our memories are converted from short term to long term storage by frequent repetition initially and then by occasional reminders later. To remember anything, review daily until you can recall the information then review weekly until you remember then monthly and so on. Having seasons where we approximate this method on sections of the Bible allows us to internalize it much better than reading a passage once a year.
Reading through the Bible in a year takes about 4 chapters a day, 6 days a week. Ten chapters a day is a bigger commitment, but still very doable. Consider taking seasons where you read a section of the Bible monthly for three or four months. As noted above, read devotionally. I trust you will see leaps in your understanding and love for God.