Michael Boling – Justification

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INTRODUCTION
The issue of justification has had a lasting influence on the Christian understanding of the topic of salvation and its relationship to eternal security. Biblical scholars have developed numerous stances on this theological understanding often resulting in a situation which has left many believers pondering the precise application of justification in their Christian walk. Perhaps the best known debate over this topic was that between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church and encapsulated in Luther’s statement “this is the true meaning of Christianity, that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law.” It was this understanding of justification which launched the Protestant Reformation and a return to the New Testament understanding of the relationship of faith and works.

The exegetical foundation reinstituted by Martin Luther guides most theologians today in their search for a more comprehensive understanding of this immeasurable theological issue. A proper understanding of the meaning, roots and application of justification by faith is obligatory in order to properly live out a vibrant and fruitful Christian life in equilibrium with the expectation of eternal security. Justification is the underpinning upon which the believer in Christ can have assurance in the forgiveness of sin and everlasting reception by a sovereign God.

DEFINITION
Justification can be defined as “the judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, he declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored.” Further exposition on the root meaning of this term can be determined through an understanding of the Greek word for justification used in the New Testament. The judicial and legal terminology that is appropriated to dikaiōma is evident from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Strong notes that dikaiōma “uniformly, or with only a single exception, signifies, not to make righteous, but to declare just, or free from guilt and exposure to punishment.” In a similar stratum of interpretation, theologian George Stevens denotes that “justification is certainly in Paul an actus forensis, a decree of exemption from penalty and of acceptance into God’s favor.” Continue reading “Michael Boling – Justification”

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Mike Ratliff – False Prophets and False Prophecy Then and Now

1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! 3 Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’” Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NASB)

A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.

To continue reading Mike Ratliff’s article, click here.

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Anthony Buzzard – What Happens When We Die? A Biblical View of Death and Resurrection

If contemporary secular society has retained a flicker of interest in any department of religion, it is surely in the question of life after death—if only to provide answers for inquiring youngsters. Faith in the reality of life beyond the grave seems to be faltering, since an article in the NOW magazine of December, 1979 quoted the astonishing statistic that 50% of those who claim to be Christians and churchgoing members of the Church of England do not believe in an afterlife! And yet, in New Testament terms, Christianity without a belief in the afterlife represents an absurd contradiction. Indeed, the tendency to doubt the future resurrection of the faithful called forth some of Paul’s most forceful words. To the church at Corinth he wrote:

First and foremost, I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter] and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. In the end he appeared even to me…This is what we all proclaim, and this is what you believed. Now if this is what we proclaim, that Christ was raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there be no resurrection, then Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith; and we turn out to be lying witnesses for God, because we bore witness that he raised Christ to life, whereas, if the dead are not raised, he did not raise him. For if the dead are not raised, it follows that Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, your faith has nothing in it and you are still in your old state of sin. It follows also that those who have died within Christ’s fellowship are utterly lost. If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all men are most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:3-8, 11-19, NEB).

To continue reading Anthony Buzzard’s book, click here

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Robert Rothwell – Exegesis without Embarrassment

When you have three young children, one of the things you find yourself doing is singing a lot of the songs you used to sing in Sunday school and at church when you were a kid. There is one that has been particularly favored by my kids in recent days: “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” Perhaps you remember the song’s chorus:

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,

Jericho, Jericho.

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,

And the walls came tumbling down!

The song is a lot of fun for our kids, as it gives them an excuse to march around the living room and simulate the fall of Jericho’s walls with hand motions. It is also a good way to impress on their young minds the basic truths of one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament. In fact, I would venture to say that most children who spend any length of time in a church’s educational programs will hear the story of Joshua and Jericho several times over.

To continue reading Robert Rothwell’s article, click here.

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Michael Boling – Right vs. Right

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As believers, we are called by God to always be ready to share with others the reason for our hope and faith in God and His Word. At times this can involve back and forth interaction in the form of debate or perhaps just a friendly discussion over a certain topic. As one who often frequents forums on various social media outlets, I have noticed more often than I should the tendency for individuals (to include myself) to be focused on being the one who is proven right at the end of the conversation. This urge is in stark opposition to what should be the focus of the chat, namely the pursuit of what is right and the seeking of truth as revealed in Scripture.

This is really a battle of right vs. right. On one side are those solely interested in trying to make themselves the focus or those desiring to have all the right answers to the questions presented. Now there is nothing wrong with having answers to questions. We are after all commanded by God to study His Word because in Scripture are the answers we seek to life’s most probing questions and issues. With that said, there is a distinct difference between the need to be right and to essentially be puffed up with knowledge and that of sharing with others what God has revealed and doing so with an attitude of humility.

If we are not operating in that attitude of humility, sharing the truth in love as declared in Ephesians 4:15, then we are no better or useful than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Speaking truth in pride, while perhaps making one feel good about themselves, ultimately will cause more harm than good. Winning the debate through prideful truth bombs is in actuality not winning anything at all. Conversely, if our approach is rooted in walking through Scripture together in a spirit of love and understanding the reality that people are at different stages in their walk with God and comprehension of biblical truth, the result will be much more profitable for all involved. Since the result should be sharing the beauty of God’s Word and how it contains food for our lives and how it is the lamp to our feet and light to our path, it is clear that the prideful attitude of being right should always take a back seat to what is right – speaking truth in love.

This is not easy. The urge to puff oneself up is a temptation many of us have a hard time resisting. There are many times when we engage in conversation with the best of intentions but after a few pats on the back from people, there is the tendency to lose focus on what is right in favor of the glory of being known as “Mr. (or Mrs.) Know it All”. If that is where you are at, your faith is not better than the Pharisees that Jesus excoriated for taking that very approach. It is not a good place to be nor is it a godly approach in our pursuit of truth.

Be on the lookout for those times when you are tempted to lose focus on what is right in favor of being right. If you are seeking the glory instead of God being given the glory then that should be a clear sign priorities need to be assessed immediately. In the battle of right vs. right, God receiving the glory is the side of the ring we must always seek to find ourselves.

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Dr. David Menton – If We Resemble Apes, Does That Mean We Evolved from Apes?

Anyone who has ever watched the monkeys and apes at a zoo couldn’t help but notice their resemblance to humans. By comparison, the bears in the zoo are not nearly as similar to humans as are the apes. Still, bears are warm-blooded mammals and thus are more similar to humans than are cold-blooded reptiles like the alligators. Alligators, however, do have legs and true lungs and thus are more similar to humans than are the fish. But even fish have bony vertebrae and thus are more similar to human than are the insects. And even insects are made up of many specialized cells and thus are more similar to humans than are the bacteria. Finally, all living things, including bacteria, have basically the same type of molecules that appear to be essential for life itself and share a common genetic code mechanism for their reproduction.

To continue reading Dr. Menton’s article, click here.

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Carl Trueman – The Marcions Have Landed: A Warning for Evangelicals

When one asks the most influential thinkers in the modern evangelical church are, one might find names such as Jim Packer, John Stott, and Don Carson.

I would like to suggest, however, that there is one whose influence is perhaps much greater than we are aware of, yet whose thinking all but pervades the modern evangelical church: Marcion.

He’s the man who gets my vote for most profound influence on evangelicalism, from canon to theology to worship practices. You never see his books on the shelves in your high street Christian bookshop; you never see him advertised as preaching in your local church; but, rest assured, his spirit stalks those bookshops and pulpits.

To read the rest of Carl Trueman’s article, click here.

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Steven Lawson – Why Did God Create?

Why did God create? Certainly not because He needed someone to love. Throughout all eternity past, God enjoyed perfect love and intimate communion within His own being. The three persons of the Godhead — Father, Son, and Spirit — enjoyed perfect relationships and completely fulfilled one another. Thus, God was not inwardly lonely or personally empty; He was entirely self-satisfied, self-content, and self-contained. So God did not create because of some limitation within Himself. Instead, He created everything out of nothing in order to put His glory on display for the delight of His created beings and that they might declare His greatness. The book of Genesis records God’s extraordinary display of sovereignty in speaking creation into being—and in saving it.

In Genesis, Moses first recorded the stunning demonstration of God’s sovereignty in creation. God did not look down the tunnel of time and see the universe evolve out of nothing. He did not foresee a big bang and then adopt the chaotic results as His eternal plan. To the contrary, God intentionally spoke into being everything out of nothing. He was under no coercion to create. There was no external pressure upon Him. Rather, His act of creation magnificently displayed His imperial sovereignty. No outside restraints can be placed upon God’s supreme authority, not by Satan and his fallen angels, and certainly not by mere men.

To read the rest of Steven Lawson’s article, click here

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Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality

INTRODUCTION
The issue of whether scripture denounces the practice of homosexuality or whether such prohibitions are merely the concoction of fundamentalist sympathizers is increasingly a central point of discussion in today’s society. The question of biblical doctrine and ethical behavior in relation to the permissiveness of homosexuality within the church is at a crossroads. Many denominations are increasingly allowing openly homosexual church members to attain positions of leadership with little or no condemnation. It is evident there is a dilemma on how to approach this divisive and controversial issue from both a theological and ethical perspective. This paper will examine the efforts by the homosexual community to reframe the discussion away from its traditional biblical and societal moorings while demonstrating the clear biblical design for proper sexual relationships found in both the Old and New Testaments. It will be clearly shown Scripture teaches homosexual behavior violates God’s original design for love and sexuality while bringing to the fore the biblical doctrine that sexual conduct should be confined strictly within the boundaries of a covenant marriage relationship between a man and woman.

OLD TESTAMENT ARGUMENTS PRESENTED IN FAVOR OF HOMOSEXUALITY
As noted by Professor Alex Montoya, “Much of the debate which has arisen over the issue of homosexuality comes from the approaches homosexual advocates have used in interpreting the Scriptures.” Supporters of the homosexual agenda, to include active homosexuals as well as clergy and increasingly denominational councils, have taken the position that homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Scripture and thus should be tolerated. This attitude has resulted in not just the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle but also the ordination of homosexuals to positions of leadership in the church. Numerous scriptures have been utilized in the Old Testament to challenge the traditional orthodox position that homosexuality is defined in Scripture as sexual perversion. While not exhaustive, the following discussion outlines the major passages in the Old Testament appealed to by homosexual advocates as indicative of either Scripture’s ambivalence towards homosexual behavior or at a minimum, the cultural limitations of any laws in Scripture that may be viewed as denouncing homosexuality. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality”

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