October 2008

Monthly Archive

“We Need the Light of the Holy Spirit to Teach Us the Character of God”

Posted by on 31 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Agape Force, Charles G. Finney, Sanctification

 

Charles G. Finney on Sanctification

When I was a young Christian working as a staff member with the Agape Force Ministry (Lindale, Texas), we were required to read Finney’s Systematic Theology as a condition for seeking ordination. Little did I realize that the Holy Spirit would use Finney’s section on sanctification to set me free from several long-standing struggles. Imagine that a systematic theology would be used by the Holy Spirit to set someone free. That is exactly what God did in 1980 with the vital truths of sanctification by faith.

I learned from Finney that not only was my justification (getting right with God) was by faith, but also my sanctification (Christian growth) was by faith (1 John 5:1-5). My victory over sin came as I trusted in a particular attribute of Christ’s character or by standing on a particular benefit of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.

We need the light of the Holy Spirit to teach us the character of God, the nature of His government, the purity of His law, the necessity and fact of atonement to teach us our need of Christ in all His offices and relations, governmental, spiritual, and mixed. We need the revelation of Christ to our souls, in such power as to induce in us that appropriating faith, without which Christ is not, and cannot be, our salvation. We need to know Christ, for example, in such relations as the following:

1. As King, to set up His government and write His law in our hearts; to establish His kingdom within us; to sway His scepter over our whole being. As King He must be spiritually revealed and received.

2. As our Mediator, to stand between the offended justice of God and our guilty souls, to bring about a reconciliation between our souls and God. As mediator, He must be known and received.

3. As our Advocate or paracletos, our next or best friend, to plead our cause with the Father, our righteous and all prevailing advocate to secure the triumph of our cause at the bar of God. In this relation, He must be apprehended and embraced.

4. As our Redeemer, to redeem us from the curse of the law, and from the power and dominion of sin; to pay the price demanded by public justice for our release, and to overcome and break up forever our spiritual bondage. In this relation, also we must know and appreciate Him by faith.

5. As the propitiation for our sins, to offer Himself as a propitiatory or offering for our sins. The apprehension of Christ as making an atonement for our sins seems to be indispensable to the entertaining of a healthy hope of eternal life.

(Section Thirty-Seven)

More from Finney’s Systematic Theology here.

More about theologian, pastor, evangelist, Charles G. Finney here.

The Life of Jacob & The Law of Consequence

Posted by on 25 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: A. W. Tozer, Brokenness, Jacob, My Sermons, Sanctification, Surrender, The Cross, Watchman Nee

 


How God Uses Difficult Authority to Transform Our Character

Gen. 28:16-29:29

(Fulfilling the Your Ministry to the Full Series)

Illustration:

 ‘I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest?’

The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’

‘What is the necessity of that? Or the good of it?’

You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him, and him alone, for your present difficulty. Be careful, for God has His eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul. One just as bad–or worse.

God is looking at the King Saul in you.

Gene Edwards, The Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness (Augusta, ME: Christian Books, 1980), 21.

Life Lesson: God allows a Saul in your life in order to kill the Saul in you.

Proposition: What is the law of consequence and how does God use authority to transform our character? How does God make me into a man or woman of God?

Fallen Condition Focus: God sovereignly uses circumstances to deal with our selfish selves.

 Exposition of Gen. 28:16-29:29

1. Heart for God Forsaken (Gen. 28:17). At Bethel, continuous communion with God is rejected. Jacob is not ready to make Yahweh, the God of his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, his sovereign Lord and Ruler.Jacob still wants to run the show. Jacob sidesteps the opportunity of having God as his the constant, conscious companion.

Definition: Communion issharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life changing. Psa. 23

2. Heart of Manipulation Exposed (Gen. 28:20). Bargaining with God betrays Jacob’s manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy character. Jacob’s heart is not yet consecrated to God and his purposes.

Definition: Consecration isthe abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges.

The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest until He gets us all. No part of the man will do.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

3. Heart Problem Disciplined (Gen. 29:5). Jacob is excited about finally meeting his family at Paddam-Aram. Little does Jacob know that he has finally met his match in Laban. God allows a Laban in Jacob’s life in order to kill the Laban in Jacob: a twenty-year school of discipline (Gen. 31:41).

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs.

By nature, we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

4. Heart Trust Betrayed (Gen. 29:22). Jacob reaps what he sows (Gal. 6:7). Laban’s wedding deception mirrors Jacob’s own deception of Isaac (Col. 3:25).

Definition: Consequences are the result of my actions. Sinful choices will revisit me as others do to me what I have done to others. No one sees my selfish actions. I am not caught. I pretend to myself that everything is okay. However, God is all seeing and all knowing, he makes sure that I am penalized for my selfish acts. The Lord makes certain that selfish actions are exposed.

Be not misled: you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature (Gal. 6:7, NLT).

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality (Col. 3:25, ESV).

Jacob receives at his wedding the consequences for the deceptive actions of stealing Esau’s ancestral blessing (Gen. 27:1-38): he pretended to be Esau and Leah pretends to be Rachel, his bride. Jacob deceptively wears Esau’s clothing and Leah wears Rachel wedding dress. Jacob, the younger, steals Esau, the older brother’s blessing. Leah, the older, marries Jacob instead her younger sister, Rachel. Jacob exiles himself as he flees Esau’s wrath, and now, Jacob will live twenty years as a de facto slave to his father-in-law, Laban, as dowry payment for the two sisters.

5. Heart Plan Delayed (29:30). Jacob will not return home in matter of days as Rebekah reasoned (Gen. 27:44). God has a plan that plan involves molding Jacob’s character and defeating his fleshly pattern of manipulation, deception, and lying.

Application: What do I do if I find myself living in a cycle of sowing and reaping, reaping and sowing? Repent at the foot of the Cross. If I repent, God takes the sin I committed, uses that painful failure, and transforms that situation for his glory and my good. It is not God’s will that I sin. However, if I repent of my selfishness and pride, God can use my self-imposed disaster for my good.

By faith, the law of consequence is nailed to the Cross and the cycle of endless retribution ends.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmedthe spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Col2:13-15, NLT).

Conclusion: God places in authority people who have the same weaknesses in their lives that I have in mine. He uses their weaknesses to put to death the same sinfulness in me.

Supernatural Ministry: A Sermon on Psalm 23

Posted by on 23 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Abiding in Christ, Brokenness, Christian Ministry, My Sermons, Obedience, Sanctification, Surrender, Watchman Nee

On Saturday, October 18th, 2008, St. Michael’s Seminary, Central Gulf States held it’s first session for the course, Christian Preaching. As a teaching method, I preached a “model” sermon to illustrate principles taught in Bryan Chapell’s book, Christ-Centered Preaching. My sermon addresses a need in every believer’s life: how can I have a ministry that affects lives and changes hearts?

Supernatural Ministry:

Life-Transforming Ministry to a World Scarred and Marred by Sin:

An Exposition of Psalm 23

Canon Glenn E. Davis

Proposition: What is supernatural ministry? What constitutes a vibrant personal ministry? Specifically, how can I have an effective ministry that changes lives and gives hope to the hurting?

Fallen Condition Focus: We all struggle in ministry: What do we say? How do we say it? Can we say anything that would change a life? Yes, we can meet Christ and through us, He can change lives.

Illustration: Johannes Tauler was broken by God of his arrogance and pride; as a result, become a vessel for God’s use: a life poured out without reserve to God.

‘Master Tauler,’ he [i.e., Nicholas of Basle] said, ‘you must die!’ ‘Die,’ said the popular Strasburg preacher, ‘what do you mean?’ The next day Nicholas came again and said: ‘John Tauler, you must die to live.’ ‘What do you mean?’ said Tauler. ‘Get alone with God,’ said Nicholas, ‘leave your crowded church, your admiring congregation, your hold on this city. Go aside to your cell, be alone and you will see what I mean.’ His plain speaking at first offended Tauler, and his resentment only proved how accurate was the diagnosis at which Nicholas has arrived. Tauler was a long time coming to the end of himself.

Johannes Tauler cited in J. Gregory Mantle, Beyond Humiliation: The Way of the Cross (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Publishers, 1975), 143.

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs. Brokenness is a work of grace achieved by the Cross and established by the Holy Spirit. “By nature we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

Definition: Consecration is the abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges. “The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest till He gets us all. No part of the man will do” (Phil. 3:7-9).

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

Testimony: In my own life, the Holy Spirit brought me to a place of utter and complete surrender. After years of being in trapped in dread of people and events, the Lord brought me to the end of myself. The Lord spoke, “Do you love me more than your fears” and that night I came to Christ. I knew that I could not go on being in bondage to fear.  He gave me grace to overcome my fears and live for him. At that moment, I surrendered and met Christ as my Shepherd-the warrior king of my heart.

When the Holy Spirit brings us to that place of utter surrender, then and only then, are we able to understand the truth of supernatural ministry found in Psalm 23.

Read the entire sermon here: supernatural-ministry-sermon .

The Apocrypha: CEC Statement

Posted by on 20 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Apocrypha, Bible, Charismatic Episcopal Church, Scripture

Statement on the Canon of Scripture from the US House of Bishops of the Charismatic Episcopal Church:

We, the US House of Bishops, unanimously confirm the original teaching of the ICCEC, that the 66 universally accepted books of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, containing all things necessary unto salvation.  As regards those several works commonly referred to as the Apocrypha or Deutero-canonical books, we further reaffirm the position which we have embraced as a communion since our founding, that while beneficial for edification and teaching, they are not to be considered part of the canon of Holy Scripture.  They may, therefore, be read in public worship, but not used to establish dogma or doctrine.  The US House of Bishops recommends this position to the Patriarch’s Council for adoption in our Canons.

The Apocrypha: An Evangelical-Catholic Perspective

Posted by on 20 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Apocrypha, Bible, Church Fathers, Evangelical, Scripture

The Apocrypha: An Evangelical Catholic Perspective[1]

Canon Glenn E. Davis

Overview

The Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliffe, voiced in the fourteenth century a love for scripture that Evangelicals embrace today:

Christian men and women, old and young, should study well in the New Testament, for it is of full authority, and open to understanding by simple men, as to the points that are most needful to salvation. Each part of Scripture (i. e. Old and New Testaments), both open and dark, teaches meekness and charity; and therefore he that keeps meekness and charity has the true understanding and perfection of all Scripture. Therefore, no simple man of wit should be afraid to study in the text of Scripture.[2]

For Evangelicals there is nothing more important than God’s word for in it is found “the infallible rule of faith and practice.”[3] However, Evangelicals disagree with Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as to exactly what books make up the canon-or the official list of books of scripture. This debate began in second century A. D. and magnified in significance during the Reformation. This disagreement persists to this day between Protestants, Roman Catholics and Orthodox, raising passions and intense theological debate concerning the nature of inspiration, the authority of the church, and the weight of Tradition. This dispute concerns the “Apocrypha,” a collection of fourteen or fifteen books (or parts of books) not included in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, but translated in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint (LXX). These books were written during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century of the Christian era. The following are the titles of these books as given in the Revised Standard Version (1957):

1. The First Book of Esdras

2. The Second Book of Esdras

3. Tobit

4. Judith

5. The Additions to the Book of Esther

6. The Wisdom of Solomon

7. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach

8. Baruch

9. The Letter of Jeremiah

10. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men

11. Susanna

12. Bel and the Dragon

13. The Prayer of Manasseh

14. The First Book of the Maccabees

15. The Second Book of the Maccabees

Three theological convictions dominate the discussion of the merits or deficiencies of including the Apocrypha as canon of  Scripture. The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles state that the Apocryphal books are not Holy Spirit inspired, but are instructional.[4] The Evangelical position is that they are not Holy Spirit inspired but are useful only for historical study.[5] The Roman Catholic Church considers them as the inspired Word of God.[6] This essay will explore the early disagreements and focus on the Evangelical opposition to the inclusion of the Apocrypha.

Read the entire essay here: the-apocrypha-an-evangelical-catholic-perspective-blog-version.
Canon Glenn E. Davis

Canon Theologian, Southeast Province, CEC


[1] Lutheran Theologian, Carl Braaten, coined the term, “Evangelical Catholic.” An Evangelical Catholic is a believer who holds to the Tradition of the Early Church Fathers and regards the Reformation Period as a much needed corrective for a drifting Historic Church. Evangelical Catholics believe that the Western Church was losing her theological and moral direction in the Medieval Age and needed renewal. “By becoming more evangelical, the church will become more catholic; and by becoming more catholic, she will become more evangelical.” (Mother Church: Ecclesiology and Ecumenism).
[2] John Wycliffe, The Wicket, Christian Quotation of the Day, December 31, 2006; available from http://www.cqod.com/.

[3] “The Lausanne Covenant,” Article Two, The Authority and Power of the Bible (The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization website); available from http://www.lausanne.org/Brix?pageID=12891.

[4] Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, Article Six, (The 1662 Book of Common Prayer website); available from http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/articles/articles.html#6 “And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.”

[5] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter One, Article III (The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics website); available from http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/ . “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.”

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, Paragraph 120 (Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church website); available from http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#120.