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Monday, February 20, 2017

Two Great Dichotomies


Basic to our understanding of scripture.


I did not call this short study “THE Two Great Dichotomies,” as there are a number of important dichotomies in scripture. We must understand the difference between law and grace; grace and works for example. But I believe the two dichotomies I write of are necessary for better understanding the others (big picture ideas). In these finite, decaying minds, we can only understand so much, but to even touch the hem of the garment on greater truths, I believe we must start here.

“ And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed...” Gen 3:15a

“ The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Gen 2:9b

Departing from my usual tack, I’m going to refer to short videos on these topics for your 
consideration.


The Seed War


From the moment of the fall, when Adam and Eve ceded authority to the Enemy who became “the god of this world/age,” the human race has been engaged in a war. This war has two aspects: one in the heavenly places, the other among men. The Apostle Paul warns of “principalities... powers... rulers of darkness in this age... and spiritual hosts” (Eph 6:12); and warns of those among men who are “the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil 3:18). The Lord speaks of those who are “of your father, the devil” (John 8:44).

As with most references I make, I may or may not agree with every aspect of the information in this video. Nor do I believe this video exhaustively covers the issue. I offer it as an introduction to the topic.





The Two Trees in the Garden


The enemy offered Eve the lie. The lie is twofold: You will never die and you will be as God [Elohim]. We still live with that lie today. The promised “Seed of the woman” is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. We are born in the flesh after Adam, but to achieve life (escape from death in resurrection) we must be born again.

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)





Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that theywere naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. (Gen 3:4-7)
There are choices for all of us (life/death, blessing/cursing, resurrection/destruction, joy/sorrow, sin/liberty, etc.). Those choices are better understood if we understand the Two Trees and if we understand the Two Seeds.

If you have any interest in finding out more about living life in The Tree of Life versus the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, I invite you to get plugged in with a Daystar Church LIFE small group.






Thursday, February 2, 2017

25 Years Under Grace... What Plagues the Body of Christ


October 5, 2016, marked the 25th anniversary of the night I surrendered my life to the gospel of the free grace of God in Christ Jesus... I’d like to share, in my humble opinion, some of the movements and doctrines within Evangelical Christianity which, I believe, have been anywhere from dingy to detrimental to dangerous.


I am imperfect and perfectly capable of error. Since I laid the foundation of Christ alone (for there is no foundation which can be laid - 1 Cor 3:11), I have dabbled in and examined these movements and doctrines. Some I held in whole, some in part, some I just studied as to their veracity. So I don’t write this as a purist, incapable or error. I write as someone who continues to examine his own failings and studies to show himself approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15).

Coming out of a system which declared itself infallible apart and beyond scripture, and having come to the gospel of the free grace of God kicking against the goads, I stepped lightly into no doctrine. I took Luther’s words at Worms to heart, "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason... my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." So it is with an understanding that I claim no infallibility, only that I hold no doctrine for which I have not the harshest judge. I hold to a Theology of One for I am responsible for and will answer for only my own conclusions.

I often credit my Philosophy class at UNCG as being an integral part of my conversion to Christianity and as one of the foundations of my approach to Bible study. Surely not because the professor intended that end, but because it required I study logical thought and argument. I learned not only about the process of logic, but about logical fallacies too. Bible study must be intensely individual, and with that in mind, I force myself to hold no position about which I have not, to one degree or another, reasoned as best as my flawed mind can.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow...

This list will not be exhaustive. I will try to focus on the more ubiquitous examples.


I will list them with only limited commentary. I have covered some of these issue in other writings. The ones touched on in my Facebook notes will have links. I will not list any names unless necessary...

  • SELF ESTEEM MOVEMENT - As one who had to overcome 25 years of ritualistic and self-righteous pursuits to find myself a lost sinner deserving of judgment, this movement baffles me beyond comprehension. If there any plague that corrupts this planet, inside and outside the Body, it is selfishness. How the answer any Christian can offer anyone being “self-love” is troubling. “You are loved” is our message, not “love yourself.”

  • DOG BARKING CHARISMANIA - I came to the gospel on my own. When I finally sought fellowship, I was directed to a charismatic church. This was a precious time in my early Christian life and the people at that church will always hold a special place in my heart... but I didn’t just adopt their doctrines simply because that’s where I fellowshipped. In the end, I could not find the mania I started to see there (and its many manifestations) in scripture. This is not an indictment of all charismatic churches (I respect those who embrace all the gifts above the partial cessationists, even as I disagree with both). A number of teachers I still follow are charismatic. The founder of the charismatic Calvary movement (and a teacher I greatly admire), the late Chuck Smith, penned “Charisma Versus Charismania.” It’s an indictment of the mania of which I refer by a key Charismatic teacher.

  • ONENESS PENTECOSTALISM - Holding to a doctrine so easily refuted by scripture makes this a movement that I only briefly examined. I never had any inclination to embrace it in any way.

  • PRETERISM, REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY, ETC. - There are a number of Reformed teachers from whose teaching I have profited. There may be many valuable things found in some of their teachings. But as a group which purports to be the antithesis to my former religion, they have adopted quite a lot of its theology. I came into Christ with Replacement Theology (that is, believing the “church” has replaced Israel) and it was a doctrine examined quite a bit before disposing of it with prejudice. Israel’s place in this age is a subject of debate, but surely national Israel has a future, a blessed future.

  • AMILLENNIALISM, KINGDOM NOW - sister doctrines to Preterism. 

  • CALVINISM, SOVEREIGNTY, ETC. - Three, four, five points. At one point or another I dabbled in or embraced some grouping of the five points of Calvinism. The more I study the more I am convinced that I am a zero-point Calvinist. For folks who usually deem themselves the intellectuals of Christendom, they hold to some blatantly illogical positions... which often leads to claims that one must go to seminary to study why the insane is really sane. Harsh words, perhaps, unfair too... but I’ve never gotten anywhere discussing these issues with them, and without a seminary degree, they are often unwilling to consider my thoughts seriously.

  • ECUMENISM - This one needs little comment. I’ve probably written on the philosophical and logical madness in this movement. I didn’t just buy a new hat. I had to reject the religion to which I gave 25 years’ service, risking damnation (according to her), in embracing the gospel of grace. It’s even more maddening when the movement embraces groups which do not even claim to be Christian. “Interfaith” is a the first clue that some movement is political and not spiritual. 

  • THEISTIC EVOLUTION - When I was 14, I was glued to the Cosmos series on PBS. I was taught evolution in my science classes in my religious school and my church-approved bible notes spelled out the doctrine of Theistic Evolution. Later, as a Religious Education Teacher, the textbook I used spelled it out even more clearly as did my church-approved “Bible Handbook.” But of all the doctrines I once held, this is the most insipid. It takes a weak, middle position which not only strikes at the base of the salvific work of Christ, it doesn’t really understand what naturalistic evolution is built on. So, when I finally studied the issue in greater detail (as I had been doing with all other assumptions), I discarded the illogical and contradictory teachings on evolution as I discarded with even greater prejudice the nonsensical doctrine of Theistic Evolution.


The following are some common topics within Evangelicalism (and beyond) which, I believe are misunderstood to one degree or another. The failure to rightly understand them and associated doctrines stunts growth, leads to confusion, hinders evangelism and clouds the great Work of Christ (some to a greater degree than others).


The linked notes are in the form of very short introductions to certain topics and often cross doctrinal areas. In the coming months, I hope to have a little something on all these topics and I hope to finally finish compiling and publishing my book, A Theology of One. 

All Bible study must in the end be individual... Each one must look out the reference for himself. He must trace the words through all their occurrences where these are given; he must consider their usages; he must read the contexts; he must make his lists and tables, and do his countings for himself: for so only can he feed upon the Word and the words, and be nourished, and be strengthened himself, and grow thereby: so only will he be able to say with Jeremiah: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; And thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." 
-Dr. E.W. Bullinger (How To Enjoy The Bible)