“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children . . . Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
–Ephesians 4:12–16, ESV
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Is there anything more important than the Bible? Jesus said Scripture can’t be broken, and he prayed that the Father would sanctify his people in the truth, then said, “Thy word is truth.”
God’s people need God’s word.
The word doesn’t work like a magic formula, however. We don’t just pass our eyes over a meaningless series of symbols. No, for the word to work it has to be understood.
To understand the Bible we need biblical theology.
Why? Because biblical theology enables us to understand the trees as they stand in the forest, and it enables us to see the shape of the forest formed by all those trees.
Biblical theology helps us see how the biblical authors understood the Scriptures and their own situations. Biblical theology shines the light on how later authors picked up the storyline started by earlier authors of Scripture, summarizing and interpreting it in their use of symbolism, imagery, typology, and significant patterns.
God has spoken to us in his word. We want to understand what he has said. God’s people need to hear his voice.
Are your ears trained to hear him?
We want to do biblical theology because we want to know God and love God’s people by giving them the fullness of what God has revealed in our preaching and teaching.
Join us at the next SBTS Alumni Academy for two days (Jan 8–9, 2015) of biblical theology. If we are to teach the nations to obey everything Jesus said, we have to understand what it means.
Register here, that all the ends of the earth might fear the Lord.
Recent days have given me the opportunity to see some Chinese friends face to face. With the language barriers and the fact that China does not have freedom of the press, it’s not exactly easy to get information about what’s happening in China.
Beijing Shouwang Christian Church last met April 10, 2011. They had purchased almost a whole floor of an office building so the congregation numbering around 1,000 people could all meet together in one place. The government put pressure on the landlord, so the landlord could not finish the deal. Though their down payment was accepted, Shouwang Church was not allowed to move into the space where they hoped to worship. The landlord did not allow the church to move in, and the down payment money is frozen. It has not been returned to the church.
Since that time the congregation has not met. They have not taken the Lord’s Supper as a church body since April 10, 2011. The pastor and the four other elders of the church have all been under surveillance; they are basically under house arrest. The pastor and his fellow elders have not been tried, they have not been convicted, but they are under constant surveillance. The pastor was allowed to go to a funeral, but police followed him.
Let’s continue to pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters, those in Shouwang Church and those in other churches. They do not have the freedom to gather for worship. They do not live under a government accountable to law and justice. Their government does as it pleases, though it does not sit in the heavens.
Is there an enterprising young journalist out there somewhere that might pursue this story? Lovers of freedom—true liberals—everywhere should be interested in this, not just Christians. What will make it so that the people stop silently disappearing in China? What will make it so that a pastor cannot be placed under house arrest when there has been no crime, no trial, and no verdict?
Who will stand and speak truth to power?
Will the United States government object to policies like this in China? Or does Washington increasingly think that the Chinese government has the right idea in denying religious freedoms? Recent events do not provide encouraging indications.
God is just. God will vindicate his people. Those “who know their God will stand firm and take action” (Dan 11:32).
Here’s an interesting article about what is taking place in China: “The Debate about Shouwang Church.”
I have a proposition, then a question prompted by the article, then brief thoughts on Paul’s response to such situations:
Proposition: The Chinese government is wickedly persecuting Christians and opposing God and his gospel. May God break the teeth of the wicked (Ps 3:7).
Question: Did the Shouwang Church need to force this issue? Maybe so. I really don’t know. From the article linked above, it appears that the church could have continued to worship had they been content to do so in smaller numbers in private venues.
Thoughts on Paul: On the one hand I can imagine Paul saying that the public confrontation will result in more people hearing the gospel (Phil 1:12–21). On the other hand, there were times when he did not take on the confrontation with the overpowering government, fleeing from King Aretas (2 Cor 11:32–33), and though he wanted to take on the crowd in Ephesus the other believers wouldn’t let him (Acts 19:30).
No doubt more information about the situation in China would be helpful.
What do you think? Should the Shouwang Church have forced the issue or stayed underground?
If you’re in the area, or if you’re looking to get away for some refreshing time in the word with some co-laborers in the Gospel, it would be a joy to see you April 8–9, 2011 at the 9Marks Regional Workship in Wheeling, West Virginia, at First Baptist Church of Wheeling.
Details on the Location, Speakers, and Schedule can be found on the 9Marks site.
Hope to see you there!
I’d love to see you in Bowling Green if you’re in the area.
You can register here.
August 13, 2010
5:30pm – 6:30pm
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Session 1 – A Theological Vision—Churches that Display God’s Glory
Session 2 – Preaching & Biblical Theology Q&A
August 14, 2010
8:00am – 9:00am
Continental breakfast (provided)
9:00 – 12:00pm
Session 3 – Gospel, Conversion, & Evangelism
Session 4 – Membership, Discipline, & Discipleship Q&A
12:00 – 1:00pm
Lunch (provided onsite)
1:00 – 4:00pm
Session 5 – Leadership
Session 6 – Covenanting Together
Christ Fellowship Church
1347 Ky Hwy 185, Ste 13
Bowling Green, KY 42101
My friend Jonathan Leeman is the director of communications for 9Marks and edits their eJournal. It has been a blessing to know him for lo these many years now, and I’m excited about the appearance of his first book, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline.
Jonathan was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book–even giving the inside scoop on the cover:
Can you tell me in one sentence why people should read this book?
I hope it will offer people an opportunity to reconsider wrong ideas they have about God’s love, what God’s love is really like, and what this means for our commitments to our local churches.
Okay now that I’m hooked, can you tell me in one paragraph why people should read this book?
I think that God has unbelievably glorious plans for the local church. He means for it to display the very nature of his holy love to all the world. The problem is, we, even we who are Reformed evangelicals, can have idolatrous conceptions of love and wrong-headed conceptions of holiness and authority that cause us to miss what the bounded, accountable life of the local church should look like as it practices membership and discipline. (In fact, I argue that a lot of the recent popular and academic treatments of the local church miss the boat right here.) So even before we can talk about church membership and discipline, we need to go back and consider our understanding of God’s love and authority. The book is a book about church membership and discipline, but I don’t really begin building the biblical and systematic case for membership and discipline until chapters 4 and 5, because chapters 1 to 3 are spent trying to drastically undermine and then rebuild the worldview universe we’re living in. After several hundred years of individualism, consumerism, commitment-phobia, and skepticism, it’s like we’re living in the wrong universe, and so cannot even begin to consider what our relationships to the local church should be until we first place ourselves in the right universe. In the last two chatpers (6 and 7), I try to be much more practical about what it all actually looks like. What does it mean to really submit yourself to loving that strange, step-on-your-toes group of people down the street called the local church?
I notice the word Love in the title of the book, the titles of all three parts of the book, and in the titles of each chapter. The word Offense is only in the book’s title. So is this going to be a love-fest or are you going to offend me?! My serious question is this: should I expect to find a surprising offense in each discussion of love in this book, or is there only one initial surprising offense, and once I’m past that it’s over?
Chapter 1 examines our idolatrous conceptions of love–a conception of love in which I AM AT THE CENTER. LOVE MEEEEEE!!!!! Chapter 2 presents the antidote–the offensive love of God, a love in which GOD IS AT THE CENTER!!!! May I offer a quote from chapter 2?
Since God is the greatest object of God’s love, God’s gospel, in spite of the things that the world might like about it, ultimately offends us. After all, God’s gospel involves applying God’s own righteousness through faith to the sinner, leaving the sinner with nothing to boast in. All glory goes to God with God’s gospel (Rom. 3:21-27). Not to us….And since God is the greatest object of God’s love, God’s church, in spite of the things that the world might like about it, ultimately offends us. After all, the church is the very outpost of people who have capitulated to this offensively self-glorying God. These traitors have been duped into promoting this megalomaniac. They’re supporting his regime. What about our ways and our glory?!
The book’s cover is focused on a fence, with a blurry church in the background. Was this your idea and would you like to comment on it?
The cover was Matt Schmucker’s idea. Matt is my boss and the executive director of 9Marks. The fence is meant to be provocative. Many Christians these days have managed to absorb the culture’s inclusivistic, all-embracing sensibilities. The idea here, I think, is to say to Christians, just as Eden had an inside and an ouside, and Israel had an inside and an outside, so does the local church. Why? Because God’s love in fact has an inside (that which is holy) and an outside (that which is not).
Thanks for the questions, Jim. My hope for the book is not that Christians would learn to be more exclusivistic, but to grow in wonder for God’s holy love, and to see how this wonder should translate into submitting oneself to seeking the good of a concrete group of people called the local church.
Thank you, Jonathan, and congratulations on the book!
May it be read and discussed by elders, deacons, and small groups everywhere, and may the Lord use it to teach us to know him and love the church he bought with his own blood.
I appreciate this from Tim Keller:
1. First, we sent our services out into different locations so that people could worship closer to where they lived. People can become more deeply involved in the community and can more easily bring friends if they attend services in their neighborhood. This was an ‘anti-mega-church’ move, since huge churches create a large body of commuters who travel long distances to attend church. We wanted to resist this tendency and root people more in their locales.
2. Second, the multi-site model is a transition design for us. Redeemer has a timetable for turning each site into a congregation in its own neighborhood, with its own pastoral leadership.
Read the whole thing here.
Good article here.
No substitute for loving people this way.
Earlier post here.
Jesus keeps his promise his way.
The power of the Word of God.
The joy of loving people.
For elaboration, read the whole thing.
Thanks to the valiant efforts of Dan Born, Kenwood Baptist Church has a new website.
Check out the revamped www.kenwoodbaptistchurch.com, and if you’re interested, you can podcast the sermons here.
I’m glad to see some discussion of the multi-site-church movement.
SBTS recently held a public conversation between Gregg Allison, Chad Brand, and Jimmy Scroggins on this issue. Here is the link for the audio on the conversation: Franchising the Church or Fulfilling the Great Commission: A Forum on Multiple-Campus Churches
I think this is a model of the kind of dialogue that needs to take place in these discussions.
I was a little surprised that the issue of the meaning of the Greek word ekklesia (“assembly”) did not come up in the discussion, since the meaning of this term is at the heart of the concerns John Hammett raises (Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, 315-16, citing Mark Dever and Paul Alexander’s, The Deliberate Church, 86-88).
There is obviously a spectrum of churches engaged in multi-site ministry. Those that insist on gathering the whole church are seeking to address the issue of the need for the whole “assembly” to assemble.
It looks like those at the other end of the spectrum will be addressed in a new book by Thomas White and John Mark Yeats, Franchising McChurch: Feeding America’s Obsession with Easy Christianity.
I hope that this discussion will continue. I am convinced that congregationalism is biblical, and Baptist churches should be concerned to maintain it.
[JMH = me; TMA = Thabiti M. Anyabwile]
JMH: Dear Thabiti,
Thanks for your service to us, brother. If I may, I’d like to ask you for some advice that applies to my particular situation, and then I’d like to put it on my blog that it might benefit others.
Moving from one seminary to another takes me out of a role at Baptist Church of the Redeemer, where I have been serving as pastor of preaching, to a new city (Louisville) where we’ll be looking for a church for our family to join. This is going to be a radical change for us in terms of church life. In addition to the ways I’ve been involved (preaching, worship planning, song selection, involvement in pastoral conversations and situations, etc.) my wife has been heavily involved in ministering to the ladies at our church. Redeemer is a church that was planted only three years ago, so, we’re accustomed to seeking the Lord, consulting with a relatively small group of people, and then doing what we think will most honor the Lord (whether that pertains to nursery furniture, a ladies’ Bible study or book club, or even a place to meet!). We certainly have our preferences on music style, preaching style, and ministry style, and we’re leaving a congregation we love that sings songs we love and does ministry, we think, in a healthy way.
I suspect that for various reasons there are others like me, who go from being involved in shepherding a congregation to looking for a new church to join. How would you advise us? What kinds of things would you suggest we look for as we seek a new church home, and how can we be healthy church members?
TMA: Jim, that’s an excellent question. Actually I can identify with you quite a lot. When my family moved from N.C. to Washington, D.C., we moved from a 3-year old church plant into a situation where we knew next to nothing about the church scene. We loved that church and we set about the task of finding something like it in many ways. Actually, that’s the first piece of advice I’d have for someone in this situation. Don’t look for a church that is “like” your previous church, particularly if the likeness you have in mind involves a host of secondary matters. Our preferences can be the death of a good church search. Hold them up to the light of Scripture and be sure to cultivate an accepting heart for other believers who do things differently in secondary matters (Rom. 14). Look for the essentials first: a church holding a sound doctrinal stance, that preaches the gospel faithfully, that preaches the Scripture expositionally, and that at least encourages a strong “one anothering” culture. With the word and a strong membership culture, so many other things have fertile soil in which to grow. That would be my short list, I think.
As for being healthy members, overall it’s probably helpful to find a place where you think you can grow spiritually. When the Lord moved us from NC to DC and Capitol Hill Baptist Church, I went from being one of three elders backing up the senior pastor in preaching and teaching duties to being #49 on the depth chart at CHBC. It was clear to me that I knew less than most everyone there, and more important than how much I knew or they knew, they were living so much better than me it seemed. I felt like the entire family would grow spiritually in ways that really mattered—holiness, humility, love, joy, righteousness and so on in Christ. So, search for a place where you’ll grow spiritually, even if it’s a place where you’re one of the smartest guys there.
I think there are some temptations and sensitivities you can bring to a church given your labor as a pastor and professor. The temptation would be to either try to influence the church in pride (“I’ve been a pastor and professor and you should do it this way”) or to assume that you should have more access to the pastors than other members (“I’m a pastor; I can help. Why don’t they ask?”) Either attitude, left unexamined or unidentified, could create strain and difficulty in a new church situation. Be careful of the temptation to say, “I wouldn’t do it that way.” There may be pride and a judgmental attitude there. Instead, pray and look for the mindset that says, “I want to support and follow the leaders in any way I can.” As a member, we’re called to that attitude without regard to our history as pastors. Support the leaders the Lord has called to that place, and perhaps go out of your way to let them know of your support and that you’re not judging them. Be a good leader to the other sheep by modeling the kind of submission you perhaps experienced or longed for in your previous church situation. And that’s one of the unique sensitivities a former pastor brings to a new church. He knows what it’s like to be the shepherd and for the sheep to misunderstand. With that sensitivity, you can model so much of what nearly every pastor wishes his people understood.
Beyond that, be healthy church members by attending regularly, giving your life to the people there, sitting joyfully, humbly and eagerly under the leadership and teaching of others. Pray fervently and without ceasing for the leaders, the members, and the ministries of the church. Give generously and so on.
JMH: Following up on that question, do you have thoughts on how seminary professors in particular can be healthy church members?
TMA: Again, you bring perspectives and resources that most members will not have. You can be helpful in your area of expertise, or connect the church to seminary-based resources. When the elders or the church is working through a particularly knotty problem, you may be in a position to deliver some expertise. Only be careful. Remember you’re not in a classroom but in a living breathing church where histories and cultures are always at play. Be sensitive to who those people are.
Another way you can be a healthy member is help the church leaders fight the mistaken impression that “the seminary is where it’s at.” Your participation in the church will help with that. But talk often of the seminary’s parachurch support role for the church. Encourage seminarians to cultivate that understanding. Encourage more young men with gifting to consider the pulpit rather than the academy.
JMH: And lastly, how can seminary students be healthy church members?
TMA: Seminarians should think of themselves primarily as church members, not “seminarians.” I think a lot of men see themselves as ‘tweeners levitating somewhere between their previous church and the church or mission field they’re headed towards. They’re in a kind of suspended animation. And often a seminarian can suffer spiritually as they float out their in academic space somewhere. The church suffers too without their gifting and service.
It will be tempting to think of their studies as a special status that obviates their relationship to and responsibilities in the local church. But they are primarily Christians, and as such should be active in a local church body as members not seminarians. We don’t excuse other college students from the expectation that they should be active in a local fellowship; and we shouldn’t do it with seminarians either. So, they should join a local church and plant roots. They may be leaving in a few years but learning to love a church quickly will help them learn to love new members quickly when they’re pastors or when serving in highly transient areas.
And like seminary professors, students should be humble and patient, avoid judging others and asserting unimportant preferences. They should see the church as the main classroom of Christ, and the classroom as an auxiliary. Given that, they should seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. And by God’s grace, they will as they humbly receive the word (Jam. 1:21), receive grace through the various administrations of God’s gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11), and are equipped for service until they reach maturity in Christ, the Head (Eph. 4:11-16).
JMH: Thabiti, hearty thanks for these helpful and edifying thoughts. I am particularly grateful for the way you have applied the truth of the Scripture to the situation we face. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry!
Our brothers and sisters at Redeemer are hosting a going away party. If you’re in the area and want to join us, we would love to see you. The details are on my dear brother Travis Cardwell’s blog here.
Because Travis’s post says such nice things about us, I must note that every good thing that could be said about us is due to the sheer mercy of God. We have nothing that we have not received. Praise God that he uses beggars like us, for whom, by God’s grace and mercy, everything is so much better than we deserve.
Yesterday I had the great joy of preaching at a wedding for one of the guys in our church, who is also a student at SWBTS Houston. At the encouragement of a couple friends who were present, I’m posting my remarks here. May the Lord be pleased to bless our marriages that we might be living pictures of the mystery of Christ and the church!
When God gave the woman to the man in the Garden of Eden, the words were pronounced, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The harmony enjoyed in Eden was soon lost when the couple sinned, and God said to the woman as he pronounced judgment, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16). That curse is the origin of all marital difficulty. That curse is the origin of feminism. That curse is the origin of males who sinfully “rule over” their wives in inappropriate ways. That curse came because of human sin, and that curse threatens to make marriage hopelessly impossible.
What a depressing thing to say at a wedding!
But we aren’t hopeful about your marriage because we can make a joke and lighten the mood. We are hopeful about your marriage because when Jesus came, he died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. His resurrection shows that he has triumphed over the curse. He has opened the way to life.
All who trust in Jesus are justified before God and empowered to live in a new way, a way that is not doomed by the dreadful curse on sin.
I have been sitting on this post for a long time. My students have heard me make this argument in class, but I have been hesitant to post it. The main reason I haven’t posted until now is my great respect for the continuationists at Sovereign Grace Ministries. Those guys are among the most humble, godly, joyful, loving people I’ve ever met, and I don’t mean any disrespect to them in this post. I disagree with them, though, and I’m about to say why. Before I do, some caveats:
First, my argument for cessationism is exegetical, but it is not tied to any statements in 1 Corinthians 13.
Second, this argument is not tied to a particular form of either dispensational or covenant theology (I’m in that overlapping middle that is sympathetic with both Progressive Dispensationalism and New Covenant Theology).
Third, below I will lay out my argument. When I’m done, I’ll tell you what I think is the major defeater of my argument (in other words, I’ll tell you how I would argue against this position if I were a continuationist), and then I’ll tell you what (I think) defeats that defeater.
D. A. Carson has written,
“As long as ‘apostles’ are understood to refer to a select group (the Twelve plus Paul) whose positions or functions cannot be duplicated after their demise, there is a prima facie case for saying at least one of the cari,smata (charismata) passes away at the end of the first generation, a gift tightly tied to the locus of revelation that came with Jesus Messiah and related events” (Showing the Spirit, 88).
I would define The Apostles that Carson describes as those who saw the risen Lord Jesus and were commissioned by him. This would seem to mean that The Apostles were the 12, with Matthias replacing Judas (Acts 1:15–26), James the Lord’s brother (1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19), Paul (1 Cor 15:8-9), and maybe Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14).
The word “apostle” is also used in the NT to describe those who were “sent out” from the churches, and these instances are generally translated along the lines of “messenger” (see, e.g, 2 Cor 8:23; Phil 2:25). If we were to follow the pattern of the NT on this point, we might call missionaries that we send out from our churches “apostles,” but we would always want to clarify that we don’t mean Apostle in the way that Paul and Peter were Apostles. All we would mean is “messenger,” or perhaps, “missionary.”
Dave Harvey has written the Sovereign Grace book on Polity (available free online here), which I think has beneficial information, but I don’t think the statement on “apostles” is helpful:
“While Sovereign Grace Ministries heartily agrees that ‘no one in the church today functions with the authority of the original apostles,’ let us not hastily extrapolate . . . to conclude that no one today functions as an apostle of any kind.”
I don’t think this is helpful because it clearly says, “We don’t mean Apostle in the sense of Paul and the 12, but we still want to use the word as though some people today have the gift.” The problem is, when Ephesians 4:11 says, “He gave some as apostles,” I think it’s really hard to make that mean something other than “Paul and the 12, James, Barnabas, and maybe Jude.” Ephesians 3:5 refers to The Apostles as those to whom the revelation of the mystery was given, which seems to refer to the guys who wrote the other parts of the New Testament. Right before that, Ephesians 2:20 refers to The Apostles as foundational for the church. So it seems to me that The Apostles that Paul describes Jesus giving to the church in Ephesians 4:11 are this closed circle of men who saw the risen Lord and were commissioned by him (the twelve and the few others added after the resurrection).
I understand the “gift” of “apostles” in both Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 to be a gift of certain people. That is, I do not understand either verse to be referring to a “skill set” of apostleship, but to certain men who were given to the church as The Apostles.
It seems to me that, in the passage cited above, Harvey concedes that the gift of Apostle has ceased, but then wants to say that something similar to it continues. But if that’s what the gift means, we might all be continuationists!
But we’re not really continuationist on this point. The real continuationists are those who conduct themselves as though the gift of Apostle hasn’t ceased, and there are at least two groups who behave as though it does: Roman Catholics and Mormons. For the Roman Catholics, tradition and the Pope’s ex cathedra statements are as authoritative as Scripture. The Mormons also claim to have new revelation that is on the level of Scripture.
It seems to me that any group that holds to a closed canon thinks that the gift of Apostle has ceased (I have argued the same point regarding prophecy here). Those who think the canon is closed and call themselves “charismatic/continuationist” on this point can only do so because they have redefined the terms.
Perhaps an analogy would be helpful here. I think this would be like me re-defining what it means to be an Arminian and then claiming to be one–after all, I do think that people have free will! Let me put it in a way that corresponds with Harvey’s statement above: “While we agree that free will as the Arminian typically understands it does not exist, let us not hastily extrapolate that there is no such thing as free will of any kind.”
Would it work for me to announce, “Therefore, I believe in free will, and I will call myself an Arminian.” Is this helpful in the discussion? Wouldn’t a real Arminian object to the way that I have co-opted their language?
So it seems to me that everyone who thinks that there are no more Apostles like Peter and Paul thinks that at least one spiritual gift has ceased. It seems, then, that this discussion is simply over the degree of cessationism that we hold, because anyone who holds that there is no one in the church today with the same kind of authority possessed by Peter and Paul believes that the gift of Apostle has ceased. In conclusion, it appears to be the case that, at least as it regards the gift of Apostleship, all protestants are really cessationists. If they are not, they can, in principle, add to the New Testament.
One final tongue in cheek comment: if we had an apostle or a genuine prophet today, wouldn’t it be possible to settle some of the thorny issues that divide protestant Christians into denominations? For instance, wouldn’t an Apostle or a Prophet be able to tell those paedo-baptists to quit sprinkling their babies and join up with the Baptists!?
A Possible Defeater
If I wanted to maintain the continuationist position, I would argue that the term “Apostles” cannot be limited to this “closed circle of men” (the twelve minus Judas plus Matthias, Paul, Barnabas, James, and maybe Jude) described in the New Testament. One text (which my friend Denny Burk pointed out to me) that might open up the circle of The Apostles is 1 Corinthians 15:7, where after saying that Jesus appeared to the twelve in 15:5, Paul says that Jesus appeared to James and “all the apostles.” This text could be taken to mean that “The Apostles” refers to a broader group than those named above. Incidentally, those who think that Junia is both female and an Apostle (Rom 16:7) also think there are more apostles than those I have named.
Answering the Defeater
I think it likely that Paul mentions the twelve in 1 Corinthians 15:5 and then mentions “all the apostles” in 15:7 because The Apostles is a broader group than merely the twelve. One member of this broader group has been named in the previous phrase in 15:7, James. I am inclined to think that the reference to “all the apostles” in 1 Corinthians 15:7 is a reference to all those who make up this group of fifteen or sixteen men (the twelve including Matthias, James, Jude?, Barnabas, and according to 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul). I think that Paul is saying that Jesus the Risen Lord appeared to them and commissioned them.
With D. A. Carson, I think that The Apostles are a closed circle and that when those men died the foundation of the church had been laid and the gift of Apostle ceased.
Those of you interested in approaching youth ministry in terms of equipping parents to disciple their children and helping them in that process will want to check out Alex Chediak’s blog report of the recent reThink Conference.
Here’s the lineup of posts:
2. Interview with Steve Wright (part 1)
3. Interview with Steve Wright (part 2)
4. Session I – Leon Tucker
5. Session II – David Horner
6. Session III – Dave Owen
7. Session IV – Steve Wright
8. Session V – Randy Stinson
Steve Wright will be recording a few episodes for Family Life Radio later this week.
Update: Free audio for each of the five sessions has now been made available:
In God’s great mercy I will be joining the faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall. Here’s the story in the Towers Online.
Here’s what I said when I shared this news with our church family at Baptist Church of the Redeemer:
Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Psalm 139:16 tells us that every day of our lives is written in God’s book before they come to pass. God is sovereign over every day of our lives.
Acts 17:26, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place . . .”
Acts 17:26 is describing nations, and it states that God has determined how long a nation will exist and what its boundaries will be. I think the same is true of individuals: God has determined how long we will live on this earth and what the boundaries of our dwelling place will be.
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared beforehand good works for us to do.
2 Timothy 2:4, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
2 Timothy 2:4 tells us that Christian ministers are like soldiers. Soldiers receive orders, and they obey, seeking to please their superiors.
The circumstances of our lives have made clear that new orders have been given to me.
It has been a high privilege to serve Southwestern Seminary for the past 5 years. The students have been eager to learn, encouraging to me, and what a joy to see them enter the harvest! The administration has been generous to me, always showing a sincere pastoral love, and God blessed me with dear friends in my faculty colleagues.
It has also been an unexpected, unlooked for joy and privilege to serve at Baptist Church of the Redeemer for the last three years. I never intended to get swept up in a church plant, but God blessed us immensely through this group of families who wanted to plant a church. We are so grateful that we were drawn into this endeavor. We have never been happier at a church than we are at Redeemer. We have learned and continue to learn from our brothers and sisters, and I am spurred on by their godliness and devotion. What a privilege to serve such a people!
I would be a fool to choose to leave.
But it has not ultimately come down to my choice. Months of thinking over and praying through this possibility have made me certain that if The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary invited me to join the faculty, it would be the call of God to leave Houston and move to Louisville to labor in a different section of the Lord’s vineyard.
God has opened this door and has called us to this new ministry. We are sad to leave home, family in Texas, and most of all our church, but at the same time we are excited about what the Lord has for us.
Lord willing, I will take up the post of Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern in the Fall of 2008. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve in this role. May the Lord prosper his Word!
On a logistical note, if anyone is looking to buy a house in southwest Houston, let’s talk!
The Bible is clear, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy to rightly interpret it. Interpreting the Bible rightly is one of the hardest things in the world to do. And if interpretation is difficult, proclamation is even harder. We move beyond the meaning of the points made in the text to questions like: What is the best way to proclaim the gospel from this text? What are relevant contemporary illustrations of this text?
One of the most helpful things to have when thinking about preaching a text is a sermon done by someone you trust to get the message of the text right, to surprise you with applications or illustrations that stimulate your thinking, and to show you strategies for undermining unbelief you haven’t thought of yourself. Because reading this kind of thing is so helpful, I am very thankful that Crossway is publishing Mark Dever’s sermons.
Anyone trying to get their head around how to do expository preaching should read Twelve Challenges Churches Face. Anyone preaching through 1 Corinthians will want to add this book to the things used in preparation to preach. Anyone teaching a Sunday School class on 1 Corinthians could study this book along with their “teacher’s curriculum.” Anyone leading a Bible Study on 1 Corinthians will gain from this book. Anyone who has decided to study 1 Corinthians over the course of a month or a semester or for the whole year will be helped by this book.
Have I mentioned that I like this book and am glad to recommend it?
How can evangelicals best influence the United States of America?
I submit that there is a better answer than the one that would be given by either Chris Matthews or Rush Limbaugh.
The greatest influence evangelical Christians can have upon American society and politics will not come by lobbying Washington, getting out the vote, or doing anything overtly political. The greatest influence evangelical Christians can have upon American society and politics will come through investing themselves in a local church where the gospel is proclaimed, where the Scriptures are faithfully taught, where people understand what regeneration is, and where church discipline draws a clear line between those who live as though they have been born again and those who do not (and when people don’t repent of sin, they live as though they are unregenerate).
At the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2006, I presented a paper entitled “The Church Militant and Her Warfare: We Are Not Another Interest Group.” That piece has now appeared in the latest issue of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.
Dr. Russell D. Moore writes:
The SBJT, edited by Southern Baptist theologian Stephen J. Wellum, is an excellent resource for pastors and church leaders. . . . You can (and should!) subscribe here.
You can read Dr. Moore’s essay here.
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