Call To Die
Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)
- Name: Andrew Lindsey
Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Monday, May 02, 2016
Are prayers directed to Jesus biblically appropriate?
On my team-blog, Strange BaptistFire, a commenter calling himself "Christian Brother" posted the following question:
In prayer, should we pray only to God the Father? Or are we permitted to pray to Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, as well?
I am inclined, thus far, to agree with the former because nowhere in Scripture is there a commandment to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but there is plenty of commandments to pray to the Father. And, as much as my knowledge admits, there is not a single example of any Christian in the New Testament making a prayer to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Yes, we are to give thanks in the Spirit or in Jesus, but we are always commanded to direct that thanks to the Father.
But I am very concerned about this because the heart of the question is this: What is an acceptable prayer? We would all hate to pray in a certain way, only to later find that we have been offering unacceptable prayers.
But on the other hand, if I have concluded that we should only pray to the Father, and the Bible permits us to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, then I have been deprived of a fuller relationship with the Trinity.
What are your thoughts on this matter?
My response follows:
I believe that as followers of Christ we are regularly to direct our prayers to the Father (Matthew 6:9) in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14) by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:18). This normal model of how prayer is to be conducted is especially important in the local congregation, as in praying this way we teach one another about God through exploring the roles taken by the distinct Persons of the Trinity.
I do believe that Christians have the freedom to pray to Jesus, however, as I will explain below:
Though there are no commands to pray to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, there are, I believe, some clear examples of prayer to Jesus; many of these are indicated by David Peterson in his book Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (148-149):
Prayer to Jesus as Lord was offered by Stephen (Acts 7:59-60), in a way that is striking when compared and contrasted with the prayers of Jesus to the Father (Lk. 23:34, 46). Ananias also prayed to Jesus as Lord (9:10-17, where v. 17 shows that the ‘Lord’ addressed was Jesus) and designated the followers of Jesus as those who call on his name (9:14; cf. 22:16). Again, it is most likely that Jesus is the Lord addressed in prayer by the disciples in 1:24. Paul is represented as calling upon him as Lord on the Damascus road (9:5; 22:10; 26:15-18) and in a subsequent vision in the temple (22:17-21). In this connection it is interesting to note that Paul habitually associated the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with that of God the Father in his prayers (e.g. Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 1 Thes. 3:11-13; and 2 Thes. 2:16-17, addressed first to ‘our Lord Jesus Christ himself’). Christians could also be defined by Paul as those who ‘call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 1:2, cf. Rom. 10:9-13), adapting an Old Testament expression to indicate that Jesus Christ was the one in whom they put their trust for salvation and to whom they prayed (e.g. Gn. 12:8; Pss. 50:15; 105:1; Je. 10:25; Joel 2:32).
It is also important to note that the second-to-last verse of the Bible contains a brief prayer to Jesus: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20b). The church in the immediate sub-apostolic era apparently continued the practice of praying to Jesus, as their activities were described by Pliny the Younger (who was himself a pagan) as follows: “...it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god…” [Pliny, Epistle 97].
So, in conclusion, I do think that Christians today are biblically justified in heartfelt prayers to our Lord Jesus, although the more normal pattern is to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name.
As far as I know, there is indeed no command or example of prayer to the Holy Spirit, and I believe His role is to convey and sanctify our prayers rather than to receive prayer as directed to Him.
Labels: Christian worldview
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The Lord's Prayer in Latin, Marked for Translation
Looking online for helps regarding the Latin text of the Lord's prayer, I could not find any page that had the prayer fully marked for translation. Therefore, I've created my own marked text, seen below. I've marked it in the way that is most useful to me. I certainly welcome any questions/corrections.
3s PPS AccNS ^
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
3s PPS NFS ^
Fiat voluntas tua,
1p PAI DMP ^
dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
2s PAS (in+AccFS)
inducas in tentationem,
Labels: Bible translation
Monday, April 25, 2016
Impassibility and the Single Divine Decree
- God has affectional postures;
- God is on the roller coaster of time and can change.
Labels: Reformation Theology
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
"That Man of Sin"
Labels: Reformation Theology
Saturday, April 09, 2016
Suffrage Within the Church in Electing Elders
3 points about the above video:
1. Yes, it may have been made with sexist intention, and sexism is wrong.
2. It is, however, genuinely ironic and funny.
3. The real point is that most people have not been educated or prompted to consider their right to vote, and that definitions matter. (This is why I used to show this video when teaching Political Science; I think that someone could have just as easily gotten a bunch of guys to thoughtlessly sign a petition against men's suffrage.)
With that goofy introduction out of the way: this post is not about women's suffrage, or suffrage in general. This post is about suffrage within the church, specifically in regard to the election of elders. I believe that, just as people in society at large have not adequately thought through issues related to voting, we within the church have not adequately thought through the role that voting plays in our congregations.
Concerning suffrage within the church, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 declares: "Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes." In line with this statement, I was brought up under a tradition of regular church business meetings, wherein the congregation would vote on various issues facing the church. Though, at times, the business meetings were viewed as alternately either boring or contentious, no one questioned whether they should be occurring.
In college, I lived in a different town, and I became involved in an independent church, the pastor of which was very strong on the elder-rule model of church government. He basically believed that the congregation did not need to vote on anything. Whereas I remained convinced that the New Testament gives warrant for the congregation electing deacons, I followed my then-pastor's conviction that elders should be appointed by other elders, and that the elders should make virtually all of the decisions for the congregation as a whole; I did not see that the need for any church vote regarding the installation of elders. I believed that my conclusions on this matter were warranted from Titus 1:5, in which Paul instructed Titus (who was a pastor), "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city, as I directed you." This passage seemed to indicate the Titus himself, and not the various congregations, was in charge of installing elders for the congregations.
When I became a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, my thinking on elders unilaterally appointing other elders was challenged. Surprisingly, the decisive challenge (moving me back into a more historically Baptist direction) did not come from a Baptist, but from a Presbyterian. For a Missions class, I was required to read Robert Reymond's Paul, Missionary Theologian. In discussing aspects of church government seen in Paul's missionary activity, with specific reference to Acts 14:23, Reymond notes:
The idea seems to be that elders will initiate the choosing of other elders, but that the congregation will play an important role in confirming the calling of those elders. Practically speaking, this makes sense in at least two ways:
1. Men who may be considered for the role of elder might tend to put on more of a pious manner when around the already-appointed elders than when around others. Members of the congregation who are not elders may have insight into ways that a man's character does not line up with the qualifications of an elder.
2. In general, if the congregation does not respect a certain man (perhaps not through specific moral fault in the man, but rather through his not having labored among them for an adequate time), then-if that man is installed as an elder with no formal congregational input-it might be hard for the congregation to accept the new elder's pastoral authority.
John Calvin made a similar point as Reymond, in an even more expansive way, when he considered the question, 'Should a minister be chosen by the whole church, or only by colleagues and elders, or by the authority of a single pastor?' Calvin answered:
Those who attribute this right to one individual quote the words of Paul to Titus “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Tit. 1:5); and also to Timothy, “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (l Tim. 5:22). But they are mistaken if they suppose that Timothy so reigned at Ephesus, and Titus in Crete, as to dispose of all things at their own pleasure. They only presided by previously giving good and salutary counsels to the people, not by doing alone whatever pleased them, while all others were excluded. Lest this should seem to be a fiction of mine, I will make it plain by a similar example. Luke relates that Barnabas and Paul ordained elders throughout the churches, but he at the same time marks the plan or mode when he says that it was done by suffrage. The words are, Χειροτονήσαντες πρεσβυτέρους κατ᾽ εκκλησίαν (Acts 14:23). They therefore selected (creabant) two; but the whole body, as was the custom of the Greeks in elections, declared by a show of hands which of the two they wished to have. Thus it is not uncommon for Roman historians to say, that the consul who held the comitia elected the new magistrates, for no other reason but because he received the suffrages, and presided over the people at the election. Certainly it is not credible that Paul conceded more to Timothy and Titus than he assumed to himself. Now we see that his custom was to appoint bishops by the suffrages of the people. We must therefore interpret the above passages, so as not to infringe on the common right and liberty of the Church. Rightly, therefore, does Cyprian contend for it as of divine authority, that the priest be chosen in presence of the people, before the eyes of all, and be approved as worthy and fit by public judgment and testimony, (Cyprian, Lib. 1 Ep. 3). Indeed, we see that by the command of the Lord, the practice in electing the Levitical priests was to bring them forward in view of the people before consecration. Nor is Matthias enrolled among the number of the apostles, nor are the seven deacons elected in any other way, than at the sight and approval of the people (Acts 6:2). “Those examples,” says Cyprian, “show that the ordination of a priest behoved not to take place, unless under the consciousness of the people assisting, so that ordination was just and legitimate which was vouched by the testimony of all.” We see, then, that ministers are legitimately called according to the word of God, when those who may have seemed fit are elected on the consent and approbation of the people. (Institutes 4.3.15)
After the above statement on suffrage within the church in electing elders, Calvin then gives the following important word: Other pastors, however, ought to preside over the election, lest any error should be committed by the general body either through levity, or bad passion, or tumult. (Ibid.)
With all of this in mind, I believe that when it comes to electing elders, the already-appointed elders should take a lead role in both bringing new candidates for eldership before the congregation and in presiding over the election of new elders. HOWEVER, candidates for eldership must be confirmed by the whole congregation. The biblical warrant for the congregation both electing officers and exercising church discipline (Matt 18:17) means that there is definitely a congregational aspect to church government.
I will say that I am still a bit uncomfortable with the Baptist Faith and Message declaration about "democratic processes," simply because the term "democratic" has such philosophical and historic baggage. HOWEVER, I fully concur with the statement in the Reformed Baptist Confession (1689):
The way appointed by Christ for the calling of any person, fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit, unto the office of bishop or elder in a church, is, that he be chosen thereunto by the common suffrage of the church itself; and solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer, with imposition of hands of the eldership of the church, if there be any before constituted therein; and of a deacon that he be chosen by the like suffrage, and set apart by prayer, and the like imposition of hands. ( Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Acts 6:3, 5, 6 )
(26.9, emphasis added)
Labels: Reformation Theology
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
"so help me God"
I would also like to submit that Piper's biblical reasoning on this issue could benefit from an examination of the Reformed/Baptist confessional heritage. Today, there are many who distrust confessions of faith (and works of systematic theology in general), believing that they necessarily force an interpretive grid upon Scripture. But as I read Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen, I see Owen (the architect of the Savoy Declaration) and Coxe (the architect of the Second London Baptist Confesion) drawing their arguments by careful exegesis of specific passages. And on this issue as well, it is better to take our older brothers' words into consideration than to have each generation pretend as if they are thinking through disputed issues for the first time. So, for example, we should consider Chapter 23 of the Second London Confession, "Of Lawful Oaths," where it declares:
In matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken. (Heb 6:16; 2 Cor 1:23; Neh 13:25)We should look at the reasoning of the Confession and the Scripture proofs it cites to see if there is wisdom from our elders that will benefit us.
John Piper, in his advice against oaths in court, is trying to be faithful to the command of His Lord. In this, he is to be commended. However, I am convinced that he is wrong on the question at hand, and that his error-however honest-has the potential for serious consequences.
Piper envisions himself, if in court, refusing to give an oath. Instead, he believes he would give a miniature sermon: something like Stephen before the Sanhedrin. But, though United States judges and justices have made wicked decisions at times, our court system is not the Sanhedrin. It is, however, an environment in which many witnesses have a reason to lie, and the judge and jury need a formal mechanism by which people are either bound to tell the truth, or else they face legal repercussions. It is not a place where each witness can establish a reputation whereby everyone can know that his "yes" is "yes" and his "no," "no." It is not a place where each witness can give a theological dissertation based on private opinion. Introducing unusual language into the proceeding just confuses the matter at hand. Instead of providing the opportunity for witness that Piper imagines, failure to give a simple answer may make the Christian seem unnecessarily obnoxious, and place him-again, unnecessarily-in danger of contempt.
Finally, apart from the specific example at hand-the question of a Christian who is a witness at trial-the approach that Piper takes to this question introduces a detrimental method of biblical interpretation. People have used this method-taking a single phrase from the Sermon on the Mount out of context, not interpreting Bible verses by the light of Scripture as a whole-and they have argued for absolute pacifism (based on "love your enemies"), they have argued against proper Christian discernment (based on "judge not"), and they have promoted even worse errors.
Several of Piper's works have been a great blessing in my own life. He is greatly influential with many in our churches. But I would urge anyone reading this to re-consider his exegesis concerning oath-taking; in general, I would hope that we will all strive to interpret every Scripture in context.
Labels: Bible study
Monday, March 07, 2016
Covenants of Redemption: Major Movements in Redemptive History
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
New Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and Levitical Covenant: Jeremiah 33:14-22
14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’”
19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 “Thus says the Lord, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’" (Jeremiah 33:14-22 NASB)
The book of Hebrews also brings these three themes together and proclaims that they find specific fulfillment in Christ. Hebrews discusses the Davidic Covenant, for example, in Hebrews 1:5. Hebrews mentions Jesus as our High Priest in chapters 3-5, then gives a rather extended consideration of both the Levitical priesthood and the New Covenant in chapters 7-10.
Labels: Bible study
Monday, February 01, 2016
Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology
In addition to the resources at www.1689Federalism.com, I believe that the following 10 videos are wonderfully helpful in rightly understanding what the Bible teaches about the covenants.
Covenant Theology Foundations by Samuel Renihan
A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 1 by Richard Barcellos
A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 2 by Richard Barcellos
A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 3 by Richard Barcellos
Redemptive History and the Covenants by Samuel Renihan
Whatever Happened to the Covenant of Works? by Sam Waldron
The Primacy of the Abrahamic Covenant by Jeffrey Johnson
Kingship and the Davidic Covenant by Samuel Renihan
Old Covenant Prosecution and New Covenant Resolution by Samuel Renihan
Christ and His Covenant by Samuel Renihan
Labels: Reformation Theology