Friday, May 30, 2014

Sound Doctrine

Doctrine is a controversial subject. It divides church, breaks friendships, confuses unbelievers. So many have determined that Jesus is enough and that there is no need to study or understand doctrine.

The basic definition of doctrine is "a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group."

Taking that definition then, each of us functions on the basis of doctrine. We all hold to certain beliefs, and those beliefs impact the way we live. The questions to consider, then, are:

Am I living the way I say I believe?
Is what I believe true to the Word of God? Is it 'sound doctrine'?
Is what I read, listen to, and immerse myself in accord with sound doctrine?

Nancy DeMoss brings up an excellent point in her devotional, The Quiet Place: "How many people do you know who go to great lengths to ensure the safety and soundness of the foods they eat? And yet how many people do you know are are just as careful to guard their hearts and minds from belief systems that can weaken their whole outlook on life and faithful performance of their duties in the home, the workplace, and even in their local church or ministry?"

The difficult thing is, while there is a lot of obvious false doctrine, there is a lot of doctrine that is just slightly off that seems right at the out-set. It isn't until we thoroughly search and study that we can really determine what is true.
"Outright false doctrine isn't that hard to spot or avoid....What we must be careful about is letting our spiritual intake become sprinkled with just enough error, dispensed by charismatic personalities with just enough emotional stories and funny jokes, causing us to end up believing things that slowly deaden our spiritual senses over time." Nancy DeMoss

Have you thought that doctrine isn't that necessary? Then I ask you to reconsider. 


"Maybe you’ve never thought about it in these terms, but coming to Jesus and listening to his words involves doctrine. It involves knowing and understanding what the Bible teaches about who Jesus is, why we need him, how he saves us and changes us. In other words, it involves knowing theological truth." Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep


But of course, the truth alone is never enough if it doesn't impact and change our hearts.
"If doctrine is only words on a page, it can be perceived as a bunch of lifeless rules or formulas. But when you see orthodoxy in the vibrant colors of a person’s life—when you observe that person applying it with joy and humility—you see that it’s beautiful." Joshua Harris
 


We need to realize that answering the question about doctrine is an issue we need to be prepared to face.

"As for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine..." Titus 2:1


Allison

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Emotions

“We are depressed at our losses and excited and joyful about our worldly successes and prosperity. But when it comes to spiritual matters, how dull we feel! How heavy and hard our hearts! We can sit and hear of the infinite height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear Son—and yet be cold and unmoved! …If we are going to be emotional about anything, shouldn’t it be our spiritual lives? Is anything more inspiring, more exciting, more loveable and desirable in heaven or earth than the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
Jonathan Edwards

Where is your heart? What do you get emotional about? Does the worship of Jesus inspire the greatest and deepest emotions in your heart?


Allison

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Thoughts About the "New Legalism"

A few days ago an article appeared on World Magazine entitled “The New Legalism”. This article, by Anthony Bradley, addresses his concern with the idea of being “missional”, or “radical”, as David Platt, pastor and author of Radical, suggests.

I’m not opposed to questioning or thinking through ideas, theology, or philosophies that Christians are promoting. It can be very beneficial and edifying. However, I believe some of the arguments Anthony Bradley brings up are simply misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the teaching of David Platt. For the purpose of this post, I will not attempt to address the other people Anthony Bradley may have mentioned or be referring to, but will specifically compare some things in regards to David Platt and Anthony Bradley.

Ordinary Lives

“For too many millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.” 
Anthony Bradley

This may be a concern for people, but it is not due to the teaching coming from David Platt. I’d highly encourage you to listen and read more of David Platt to gain a fuller understanding of his heart and teaching. There is nothing wrong with working a 9-5 job in America, but we need to take risks. (1 Cor. 9:15-17) If God has placed you here, how does He want to use you to talk to others about Him, to point people to Christ, and to weave the gospel into conversations without fear? How can you take risks by giving sacrificially? Radical giving and living can take place wherever you are.This is what David Platt means when he speaks of living "radical".

David Platt frequently speaks of laying a “blank check” before God, completely surrendering all our desires and dreams to do whatever God would require us to do. For some, that could be sharing the gospel with a hardened neighbor or co-worker. For others, it may mean living on lower income to give more to the church and missions. For another, it may mean going overseas. Is it wrong to wrestle over those things? We need more people that are serious about the spread of the gospel and who don’t want to live life for themselves.

Living in Love

Mr. Bradley comments that teaching like David Platt’s is: “a well-intentioned attempt to address lukewarm Christians in the suburbs, but because it is primarily reactionary and does not provide a positive construction for the good life from God’s perspective, it misses “radical” ideas in Jesus’ own teachings like “love.”

Again, Mr. Bradley questions, “Why is Christ’s command to love God and neighbor not enough for these leaders?” Sharing the gospel with others is part of our command to love. It is more than living as a nice, moral person in your neighborhood. The gospel requires words. And because it requires words, it necessitates risk on some level. We must take risks to share the gospel! (Acts 4:18-20) If we truly love God and others, we will desire to share the gospel with the lost. (Acts 20:24) The problem is that many professing Christians don’t share the gospel. So are they showing the fruit of love? David Platt teaches that “saved people this side of heaven owe the gospel to lost people this side of hell.” That is love.

Spurred by the glory of God

Every time I've listened to David Platt, I've always been turned worship the great God that I serve. So often, David Platt will paint beautiful pictures of God and who He is and then exhort you to obey and work hard and take risks. When David Platt speaks of being radical, he’s not talking about doing crazy things for the sake of doing them, or so we can boast about what we’re doing. That’s selfish ambition. Instead, it's the idea that we need to intentionally give up things for the sake of the gospel: our comfort, our time, our resources, or whatever else God leads us to do. (John 12:25)

“The price is certainly high for people who don’t know Christ and who live in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the Gospel remain in the dark.” Radical, David Platt

Simple Lives of Virtue

“What if youth and young adults were simply encouraged live in pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, education, wonder, beauty, glory, creativity, and worship in a world marred by sin…” Anthony Bradley

Virtue and character are good, and God commends godly behavior (1 Tim. 6:11, Micah 6:8), but it is never apart from a relationship with Him (Isaiah 58:2-5, John 15:5). We can have a country of nice, moral people who are still headed to hell (Isaiah 29:13). Mr. Bradley appears to promote moralism and good living, but leaves out the important message of the gospel. There is a deep need for our Christianity to be more risk-taking in how we speak of God, our relationship with Him, and how we share the gospel. We only have one life to live, do we want to be the ones that reach the throne of God simply saying, “I enjoyed my life on earth, I loved people and lived a good life and tried to do what’s right”? Don’t we want to be like Paul, who saw everything as loss compared to Christ (Phil. 3:8), who was content with nothing (Phil. 4:11), and who saw the difficulties and hardships as ways to advance the gospel (Phil. 1:12)? Shouldn’t we be eager to see how we can bring God the most glory and how we can point the most people to Him?

Can we truly be changed by Christ and not have a desire to see the gospel spread? Can we really be so callous and hard-hearted that we think that by living virtuous lives people are going to see the difference and just be saved? Do we think that God will do the work so that we can enjoy our lives now? God has called us to something greater than happy lives here-and-now.

Legalism?

Mr. Bradley accuses David Platt of legalism, but his alternative seems to suggest we live “quiet lives” without an emphasis on the gospel. Giving your life for the sake of the spread of the gospel and for the glory of God is not legalism. (1 Peter 2:9)

My question is: how is Mr. Bradley encouraging the spread of the gospel through his article? In the end, he accuses someone of promoting legalism who is encouraging people to give their lives for the glory of God and the spread of the gospel to all peoples. I hope and pray that more people from my generation would be willing to take risks like that, because Christ is worthy!




Allison

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Life of Late

Life has been full, and good! Our small groups at our church just finished up the study Behold Your God (John Snyder), which has been very instrumental in my life in revealing areas of where I have been self-centered or man-centered in my approach to Scripture, evangelism and more. It has given me a grander, more glorious view of the God I serve. It has helped me better balance between knowing and understanding doctrine, and knowing and understanding God Himself.

I’m also finishing up a small group study titled How People Change (Paul Tripp & Timothy Lane), another instrumental book in my life these past several months. Many of the truths I knew, but God has used this book to help me have a deeper understanding of the truths of change according to Scripture, what circumstances are intended to do, how to recognize ‘thorny’ responses, and how God produces fruit my life and others’.

Each book has been so applicable to struggles and difficulties I’ve faced, and I have been encouraged at how God is working in my life by helping me identify areas where I need to grow and change.

I’ve been tremendously blessed by an influx of great teaching the past 6 months! Between Bible studies, the CROSS conference, ACBC training conference, and a number of books I’ve been reading this year, a lot of solid truth has been thrown at me! I’ve been intending to write some of my own thoughts and detail out some specific areas that I’ve been thinking about and studying, but haven’t had an opportunity yet.

I’m so thankful for the work of God in the lives of His children!


Allison