I recently had a very thought provoking class on the destiny of the unevangelized. It was our last class for Soteriology through Reclaiming the Mind Ministries. Have you ever been asked the question, “Is Jesus the only way to God?” “Is it necessary to believe in Christ to be saved”? “What about those who have never heard the Gospel of Christ? Can they make it to heaven?” Now let me ask another question, have you really thought through the implications of your answer? The following will be an overview of what we covered in class. Is Christ necessary ontologically (what he did) and is Christ necessary epistemologically (knowledge of what he did)?
Why Did God Create Man?
Session one covers a question that has been asked for a very long time. Why did God create man? It’s funny, before I went to study session one this afternoon, I posted this question on Facebook asking if anybody had any ideas as to why God created us. No one responded. No ideas! In this lesson the importance of the doctrine of humanity is discussed. What you believe about humanity affects your views in so many areas. Your theology, politics, sociology and how you view yourself are all areas that are affected.
In Chapters one and two of Willing to Believe we looked at the opposing views of Pelagius and Augustine. Pelagius believed that we are capable of obedience while Augustine said we were not. It all seemed to center around this issue of original sin and it’s affects on humanity.
Do we all agree on the essentials? There is an interesting post over at John Piper’s blog called, “What Do I Have to Believe to Be Saved?” Perhaps the most important question that one can ask. I have been thinking about this question a lot over the past year or so ever since I went through a class defining essentials and non-essentials.
If someone were to ask you to take out a sheet of paper and write down what is absolutely essential for a person to believe in order to be saved, what would your list include? Another way to ask this question would be what is the bare minimum that a person has to acknowledge as true in order to be forgiven? As I soon found out this was harder than I thought it would be. Do you agree with John Piper’s list?
Tags: bible reading plan, john macarthur
As a new believer one of the first goals you should have is to read through the entire Bible. There are many different reading plans out there (just Google bible reading plans). I have found that it is a matter of finding the right one that works for you. One plan I have found that is a little different from the rest is a plan from Pastor John MacArthur. The basic Idea behind the plan is to read to remember.
“Perhaps no doctrine has more divided modern evangelical Protestantism than that of the millennium” –Donald Bloesch, The Last Things, 87
What is it about eschatology (the study of the last things) that either gets people wound up or turns them off? I would place myself more in the latter category. It’s not that I don’t have a desire to learn about last things, I really do, it’s just that there are so many different views out there and it can become very confusing trying to sort it all out. Also, quite frankly, some of those who consider themselves “experts” in the topic are just plain weird, trying to fit every single event that happens into the “grand scheme” somewhere and this is all they talk about. On the other hand, I don’t like that the end times are often ignored and reduced to a level that is not important.
The new birth is not salvation? This was the troubling question on my heart as we covered the doctrine of regeneration one evening in Bible Doctrine III class. I had always thought that being born again was the same as being saved or justified and was a result of faith? The Reformed understanding of the Ordo Salutis (order of salvation) was about to challenge me to re-examine my belief. The purpose of this paper will be to briefly examine the Ordo Salutis in relation to which comes first, regeneration or faith?
I have recently had the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters while carpooling to work with a co-worker who is Mormon. We do not always carpool but from time to time her normal ride is not available. At some time during our commute, the conversation usually turns to spiritual things. We have discussed matters such as, “where is God in natural disasters?”, “why do some not believe in a God?”, and the seriousness of sin. Our conversations have taken a turn where we now tend to discuss particular aspects of our faith. She has talked to me about how other “Christians” have mistreated her. She has also given me her testimony about how she came to be Mormon and why she believes Mormonism is true. She has even invited me to come to church with her and to watch the 108th General conference which was recently on TV. So, how should I respond? I do know some things about the teachings of the Mormon Church. Do I play dumb? Just tell her I am happy with my own religion and move on? Or, do I have a responsibility? Do I confront her with teachings of her church that go against what the Bible teaches? Where should I start? The following are some things I have found helpful. I hope this will be an ongoing post as our conversations continue.
Well, my H&S class begins next week through Reclaiming the Mind Ministries. I got a jump-start today by looking at the first lesson.
Why Did God Create Man?
Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. –Westminster Larger Catechism
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.–U.S. Declaration of Independence
Session one covers a question that has been asked for a very long time. Why did God create man? In this lesson the importance of the doctrine of humanity is discussed. What you believe about humanity affects your views in so many areas. It significantly affects every other doctrine of theology. It shapes your views on sociology, politics, and the family. It will affect your views on psychology. It will affect how you minister to both believers and non-believers. It will affect how you view yourself.
In the lesson we discussed some wrong views:
1. God did not create man (naturalism).
2. Man is an eternal extension of who and what God is (pantheism/panentheism).
3. Man is eternal as God is eternal (pantheism/polytheism).
4. God needed help with his new creation
5. God was in need of a companion
We then looked at what the Bible said and discovered that the Bible is somewhat clear and somewhat obscure when it comes to this question. Some right reasons we discussed were:
1. Because God is a creative God.
2. So that man would be able to glorify God.
3. So that God would be able to share His glory with others.
4. To accomplish His will unto whatever end.
This was a good place to start for this course. Why did God create man? It seems that if I can understand this question I can come closer to answering the question why did God create me?
One of the first classes I took with the Theology Program through Reclaiming the Mind ministries dealt with the question of defining theology. We were each asked to write a one or two sentence definition of theology. My definition was, “The study of the nature and attributes of God and His relationship with creation.” I thought this was pretty good! After all, I have heard worse. After discussing some of the definitions, we began to look at how others have defined theology.
“The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God, his laws and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are to practice; divinity; (as more commonly understood) the knowledge derivable from the Scriptures, the systematic exhibition of revealed truth, the science of Christian faith and life.” -Webster’s Dictionary
“The Science of God and of the relations between God and the universe.” –A. H. Strong
“The study or science of God.” –Millard Erickson
“Rational discussion respecting the deity.” –Augustine
“Thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way.” –Charles Ryrie
It was interesting that while some definitions were very elaborate and specific, others were very broad and generic. We were encouraged to think about theology in a more broad sense.
Tags: free will pelagius, j.i. packer, r.c. sproul
In preparation for my upcoming Humanity and Sin class, I have started reading a book called “Willing to Believe: The Controversy over Free Will” by R.C. Sproul. The book is an attempt to cover the free-will controversy from its beginning in the fifth century to the present. The book will look at the questions of what is the role of the will in believing the gospel and why has there been so much controversy over free-will in church history?
I personally can’t wait until we get into this in class! There is so much riding on this issue. How you answer the question about Original sin and free-will ultimately will shape so much of your theology. The book begins with a quote from J.I Packer and O.R. Johnston, “Here was the crucial issue: whether God is the author, not merely of justification, but also of faith”.
Pelagius and Augustine
“We, who have been instructed through the grace of Christ and born again to a better manhood…ought to be better than those who were before the law, and better also than those who were under the law.” (Pelagius) (more…)