Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

An Interview With Dr. Gordon Fee

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

This post about Dr. Gordon Fee (emeritus professor of New Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a bit of a departure from the norm and I promise not to make it a habit.

Dr. Fee’s latest work, Revelation, was published in October as part of the New Covenant Commentary series. I’ve got it on order and look forward to having it in my library. We desperately need a thoughtful and biblical take on this book that isn’t filtered through our dominate western rationalistic worldview.

In the 32 minute video interview below, Dr. Fee talks about the book of Revelation and basic principles of understanding Scripture.

Here are a few select quotes to give you a taste for the interview.

I don’t have trouble with people reading the Bible literally, because most of it is to be understood literally. But they shouldn’t read the Psalms or the Revelation that way. Yes, take it literally in terms of what it is, but please let it be its thing, don’t make it different than what it is.

[Revelation is] a marvelous book, and I just cringe whenever I see and hear people take it and make it have to do primarily with something in our future, when the only stuff that’s in our future [is] chapters 21 and 22. Everything else belongs back in the near future of these seven churches and all other Christians at the beginning of the second century.

I just experience enormous pain when I hear [Revelation] used in a Dispensationalist way, because frankly they know almost nothing about the book as John intended.

The problem with North Americans … is that we think we have a special privilege with God and we should get all the breaks and none of the pain.

[If there is one thing to know about the book of Revelation, know that it is] about the first century church that is headed for a terrible two century holocaust. Read it with that in view and then ask yourself, where do I fit in.

Enjoy and let me know what you think.


Confronting Idols & Making Disciples

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Good, good, good stuff in this five minute video excerpt of Chris Wright, Langham Partnership’s International Director, on confronting idols and making disciples.

HT: Bill and Imbi Kinnon

The Trinity and The Shack

Monday, August 25th, 2008

The positive buzz around Paul Young’s book The Shack continues at a high level. And so does the criticism.

As recently demonstrated from one of the calls to a local radio show called Think Out Loud, an area of condemnation is Young’s portrayal of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity. It is called heretical because it doesn’t depict a hierarchical trinity where the Son is subordinate to the Father.

Young attempted to address the issue with the caller by bringing to their attention the Athanasian Creed.

This creed is attributed to Athanasius (A.D. 293-373), the champion of orthodoxy against Arius’ attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity. Although likely not actually written by Athanasius, most scholars believe it expresses and reflects his influence. It describes the doctrines of the Trinity and the nature of Christ in very concise language which makes it one of the clearest statements on the Trinity and the incarnation ever written.

Note that, for clarity, I have used the term “universal” instead of the origin “catholic” since the term is not a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal (catholic) faith.


Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the [universal] faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the [universal] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the [universal] religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. (my emphasis) So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped.

He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the [universal] faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.


Bottom-line: Young’s portrayal of a non-hierarchical Trinity is very old and orthodox. It is interesting that, until recently, Subordinationism has been seen as the heretical view.

Life and Lips

Friday, June 13th, 2008

The following has been banging around in my head for the last week.

Image

What do you think it means?

Before answering, ponder these verses:

“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. — 1 Peter 3:13-16, The Message

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

  A sight to take your breath away!
  Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to. — Romans 10:14-17, The Message

Ezekiel 16:49

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

An interesting verse to mediate upon as it relates to much of the American church today.

Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (NLT)

They were arrogant and spoiled; they had everything they needed and still refused to help the poor and needy. (CEV)

Are we also guilty of pride, gluttony, and laziness while the poor and needy suffer around us?

Pride: An air of arrogance, smugness and self-importance.
Gluttony: Consuming the treasure entrusted to us by God on ourselves. Even that portion which we “give back to God” is spent in our faith communities to support programs and staff to satisfy our own wants and perceived needs.
Laziness: Indolent, idleness and slothful. Unwilling to make others a life priority or to put ourselves at regular inconvenience to help our neighbors and community including the poor and needy.

Leadership

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Ponder this:

Money and Wealth

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

My good friend Mark has been mentoring three young men (19 and 20 years of age, one of which is my youngest son) in a number of spiritual and practical areas of life. He decided to treat them to a weekend at the beach where they would deal with the issue of money and asked if I would come and share. I had around three hours on Saturday morning and another hour or so after lunch.

I thought I’d share my general outline because I’m pretty passionate about the danger of consumerism, pursuing money, and wealth in general.

This is a sketch only because when I teach I only work from an outline. My sessions are highly interactive, discussion orientated and I fill in the blanks and reinforce or clarity points as we work through the material.

THE FOUNDATION

Point one is to lay a firm foundation of how they must understand who they are as a Christian. I’m pretty strong (and often use extreme contrasts) in making the point that as a follower of Jesus they have declared him their lord and master. They are now part of his kingdom, his slave and servant, with no rights or control. Granted, he is a kind, benevolent and caring master, but master he is. As servant and slave, permission and guidance must be sought from the master in the conduct most life affairs, particularly when it comes to the proper stewardship of the resources (money and other forms of wealth) he has entrusted to us.

We work through this concept using verses like the following:

Colossians 1:13: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Ephesians 4:20-24: But that is not the way you learned Christ!– assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.

Luke 9:23: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. (Same verse from The Message)

THE PRINCIPLES

From this foundation, I move to three principles:

1. The Principle of Right Devotion
2. The Principle of Dependence
3. The Principle of Sowing

Principle of Right Devotion

Matthew 6:19–21, 24 is the key teaching passage. The point is that you can’t serve God and money, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you think you can pursue wealth and the “good life” as the world defines it and also walk in the way of Jesus you are sadly mistaken. Your all must be on loving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

I don’t suggest or teach that prospering is wrong, but that it must come from the master, not from making its getting our life passion and goal.

Meditation Point

  • God does not allow any competitors for the love due him.

We work through this principle using verses like the following:

1 Timothy 6:9-10

But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Luke 14:33 from a number of version:

(Phi) “Only the man who says goodbye to all his possessions can be my disciple.”

(TEB) Concluded Jesus, “none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up everything he has.”

(RSV) “Whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

(The Message) “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.”

Luke 6:24-26

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Meditation Point

  • It is easy enough to “explain away” one or two verses to come to the conclusion we want. But what you have been reading (and many more verses) is more than one or two verses: Scriptural teaching about money is clear, consistent, and radical. All is required, and the flesh must die to obey.

Principle of Dependence

Matthew 6:25-33 is the key teaching passage. What I attempt to impart is the fact that we must learn to live in udder utter dependence on our lord and master for all things and not do as those of the world do and put their faith and security in money and wealth.

We work through this principle using verses like the following:

Matthew 6:8

So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Luke 12:16-21

Hint: What did he put his faith in?

Meditation Point

  • If poverty is accompanied by physical dangers, prosperity is accompanied by spiritual dangers. God will often move us through both for the purpose of conforming us more closely to his image.

Principle of Sowing

2 Corinthians 9: 6-11 is the key teaching passage. The resources entrusted to us by our lord and master are not for use to meet our never ending list of wants we can so easily lust after, but to be his conduit of compassion and justice in the world. He is very clear that if we expect to reap a rich harvest of righteousness now and treasure in heaven later, then we must sow richly today.

Prayer

Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Prov 30:8-9 (NIV)

The Practical

Finally, we move to a couple of practical themes. The first being the poor and our unquestioning obligation and duty to help the truly needy. We work through many of the verses (Proverbs is rich with them) on the poor and our obligation.

Second, we look at the New Testament concept of giving. Hint: Tithing is not a NT concept. The point I make is that it is a great starting point and discipline (and to be encouraged), but if you think that by adopting the OT law of the tithe you are free to do with the remaining 90% as you please, you don’t understand your relationship with the lord and master and we need to go back and review the foundation point above.

Hope you find this brief outline useful. You’re free to use any part of it.