At the EFCA One conference, during one of the plenary sessions we corporately confessed the EFCA Statement of Faith, which was followed by a time of corporate prayer.

This was grounded in the notion of lex orandi, lex credendi, which means “the law of praying [is] the law of believing.” The heart of this expression refers to the relationship between worship and belief, belief evidenced in what we pray, the heart of worship.

In this service we broke up into groups of 3-5 people. We corporately confessed each Article of the Statement of Faith, which was followed by a time spent in prayer focusing on that Article. I have included this below.

We did this in 20 minutes, taking two minutes for each Article. Confessing each Article took about 30 seconds and we prayed for 1 ½ minutes. The two items focused upon in prayer were thanksgiving and petition/intercession. Due to the limited time, I encouraged people to pray brief prayers. I also guided them by informing them that not all will pray on each Article, but that everyone will pray.

Corporately confessing our Statement of Faith accompanied by prayer was a deeply rich and meaningful time of affirming truth in the context of worship.

EFCA Statement of Faith

God 

  1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.
  • Thank God for who He is, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do.
  • Might we rest in His sovereign power, and have a sense of our role in his gracious purpose to make all things new for His glory.

 

The Bible 

  1. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.
  • Thank the Lord that He is there and He is not silent.
  • Might we believe, obey and trust God and His Word.

 

The Human Condition 

  1. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from  God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.
  • Thank the Lord that through Christ we have been rescued, reconciled and renewed.
  • Might we look at others as fellow image-bearers and be assured the only hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Jesus Christ 

  1. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel’s promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
  • Thank the Lord for the heavenly intercessory ministry of Christ on our behalf.
  • Might we engage in intercessory prayer for others.

 

The Work of Christ 

  1. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.
  • Thank the Lord that Jesus Christ is our representative and substitute, the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins.
  • Might we recommit to the truth that Jesus’ atoning death is the only ground for salvation.

 

The Holy Spirit

  1. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
  • Thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit’s ministry of regeneration, union with Christ and adoption.
  • Might we grow in Christ-like living and service.

 

The Church 

  1. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.
  • Thank the Lord for the truth of justification and becoming part of the church with Jesus as the Head and we are the body.
  • Might we proclaim and manifest the gospel.

 

Christian Living 

  1. We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.
  • Thank God that He who began a good work will complete it.
  • Might we love God supremely and others sacrificially, be delivered from the evil one, and make disciples among all people, bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

 

Christ’s Return 

  1. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.
  • Thank God that the crucified Lord is the conquering King and He rules and reigns.
  • Might we cry Maranatha, and live with constant expectancy and a sure and certain hope that results in godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

 

Response and Eternal Destiny

  1. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.
  • Thank God for His end-time verdict and plan realized in a new heaven and new earth to the praise of His glorious grace.
  • Might we worship God for His grace and mercy in granting eternal life, and might we sense the weight of eternal conscious punishment and our call to be ambassadors.

Logos 6: Review

Greg Strand – July 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Studying, reading, researching are critical aspects to the preaching and teaching ministry of the pastor and the scholar. Although pastors and scholars engage in similar disciplines, they do so in varying degrees, consisting of breadth and depth, and for different goals/purposes and to different people. In this post I focus on the pastor/minister.

Books and libraries are a staple in pastor’s studies (I intentionally refer to this as a study, not an office, which evidences my bias about this important aspect of the pastor’s ministry). Because we are people of the Book, the Bible, we are also people of books, those writings that enable us to better understand the Bible. Most pastors still have hard-copies of books on their shelves. With the increasing number of books made available electronically, that is changing, and it is not just along generational lines. Some have gone completely electronic, building their library electronically. Many are a hybrid, including both. I place myself in the latter category.

Logos used to be known for the incredible number of resources made available, and secondarily it was a used for language study. Logos 6 continues to grow and expand such that it continues to increase the numbers of books available but also consists of a top-notch tool for language study, including the original languages. Although I still like hard-copy books, the accessibility and searchability of these works is invaluable to me when I research.

Kent Sanner, specialist at Faithlife, identifies some new features of Logos 6. In the “Everything Search” is the default search. When used it calls up every possible result from the library. It provides an incredible amount of material, and is an excellent place to begin one’s search. The “Factbook” does similar things but adds other data like “Cultural Concepts,” “Notable People,” and “Books of the Bible. As noted by one, with this tool one “can enter a subject, name, place, idea, or event and Logos will pull up all the information on the subject in an organized way.” With the “Word Sense” tool you determine the semantic range of all Hebrew and Greek lemmas and where the meaning occurs. It is both a lexicon and a concordance. The “Ancient Literature” tool enables you to study the Bible along with its cultural and linguistic background, thus allowing the Bible to be compared with ancient sources. With the “Timeline” tool, one can place biblical and historical events beside one another so that one can get a better and broader historical perspective. These are a few of the (new) many tools Logos 6 provides.

One of the other uses of Logos is on the mobile app. Although one cannot do everything on one’s phone or tablet, many key functions work such as “Passage Guide, Exegetical Guide, Topic Guide, Bible Word Study, and Text Comparison.” Any work that you would do in this form will then sync with the desktop. It is also true that the work you do on your desktop will sync with your phone or tablet.

Logos updates regularly ensuring that users have the most recent additions and updates to their program. Upon release of one version, they are already working on the next version. Logos is committed to providing an invaluable tool and resource for users. They have accomplished this.

One writes that contained in Logos is a “treasure trove of linguistic, exegetical, historical, and theological resources that enables you to do hundreds of hours of research in minutes.” I heartily concur. It is why Logos is always open on my computer.

If you are seriously considering Bible software, I recommend you seriously consider Logos 6!

For those who want to study this further before purchasing, here are a number of videos that will explain various aspects of Logos 6.

Introduction/Overview
Features and Tutorials
Resources
Desktop Training
Advanced Training
Bible Study
Preaching/Sermons
Academics
Hebrew and Greek
Packages
FAQ

A Blog Break

Greg Strand – June 30, 2015 Leave a comment

I am taking a break from blogging during the months of July and August. Although a number of posts will appear that have already been written, since I will not be actively posting and engaged, I will not be approving or responding to comments. Consider these posts as a resource.

I am grateful for this gift from the EFCA to step away from my regular ministry tasks. I look forward to focus exclusively on another writing project – my dissertation. As the Lord brings me to mind, please pray for me as I work toward the completion of this project. I am desperately needy, and therefore I am in desperate need of prayer. And pray that it will be more than just a project to complete, but that it would also be an act of worship.

There are a few who claim to affirm the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, who claim to be Evangelicals and who affirm homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.”

One of those individuals is Matthew Vines, who has written a book articulating and defending this view: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. There have been a number of good responses to this book.

It is helpful and important to hear the interpretation of key biblical texts on this issue. In a recent article there were two who interpreted these key texts, one affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman, the other, Vines, affirming that “marriage” is not limited to a man and a woman. I include only Vines’ interpretation of these key texts of Scripture.

ROMANS 1:26-27: Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

MATTHEW VINES
Paul is explicit that the same-sex behavior in this passage is motivated by lust. His description is similar to the common ancient idea that people “exchange” opposite-sex for same-sex relations because they are driven by out-of-control desire, not because they have a different sexual orientation. And while Paul labels same-sex behavior “unnatural,” he uses the same word to criticize long hair in men in 1 Corinthians 11:14, which most Christians read as a synonym for “unconventional.” Christians should continue to affirm with Paul that we shouldn’t engage in sexual behavior out of self-seeking lustfulness. But that’s very different than same-sex marriages that are based on self-giving love, and we shouldn’t conflate the two in how we interpret this text today.

 LEVITICUS 18:22: Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

 MATTHEW VINES
Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law, and the New Testament teaches that Christians should live under the new covenant rather than the old one. Consequently, this verse has never applied to Christians. For a man to lie with a man “as with a woman” violated the patriarchal gender norms of the ancient world, which is likely why Leviticus prohibited it. But the New Testament casts a vision of God’s kingdom in which the hierarchy between men and women is overcome in Christ. So not only is Leviticus’s prohibition inapplicable to Christians on its own, the rationale behind it doesn’t extend to Christians, either.

MATTHEW 19:3-6: Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

MATTHEW VINES
Jesus responds to a question about divorce by emphasizing the permanence of the marriage bond. He was asked about a man and his wife, and he responds accordingly, by referring to male and female. Same-sex marriage wasn’t on the radar screen in the biblical world, so it’s not surprising that neither Jesus nor any of the biblical writers addresses it. Therefore, Christians today have to ask whether gay relationships can fulfill the core principles of Scripture’s teachings about marriage. Based on Jesus’ teaching here and other texts like Ephesians 5, the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in order to reflect God’s covenant with us through Christ. That’s something same-sex couples can and do live out today.

1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-10: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

MATTHEW VINES
In this text, Paul uses two Greek words—malakoi and arsenokoitai—that likely refer to some forms of male same-sex behavior, but not the modern concept of homosexuality. The predominant forms of same-sex behavior in the ancient world were sex between masters and slaves, sex between adult men and adolescent boys, and prostitution. In all those cases, men used sex to express power, dominance and lustfulness, not self-giving love and mutuality. Committed same-sex unions between social equals represent very different values than the types of same-sex behavior Paul would have had in view in 1 Corinthians 6.

In light of Vines’ interpretation, how would you interpret these texts? How would you respond to Vines?

I encourage you to think this through along with fellow leaders. It is important to know what God’s Word says, and how others, particularly those affirming same-sex “marriage,” which we believe the Bible condemns as sin, interpret these key texts. Our desire and prayer is noted in 1 Peter 3:15-16a: “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience.”

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, TEDS, our EFCA seminary, is one of the top New Testament Evangelical scholars. Not only is he a gifted New Testament scholar, he is also an astute theologian, and he is a churchman. Additionally, Carson has a keen sense of what it means for Christians to live as the people of God in this culture (cf. Christ and Culture Revisited [2008] and The Intolerance of Tolerance [2012]).

Carson was interviewed about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex “marriage.” In this 18 minute interview, Carson responds to the following questions/issues:

  • How would you respond to one who asked for your thoughts regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex “marriage”? (0:00-5:15)
  • Do you believe this marks a new era for the church in the United States? (5:15-7:15)
  • What would you say to fellow believers who may be angry or feel betrayed by this ruling? (7:15-9:20)
  • With this ruling on Friday and the church gathering on Sunday, if you were a pastor what would you preach? (9:20-11:00)
  • How will this ruling affect religious freedom? (11:00-14:10)
  • What impact will this decision have on the international community, and specifically how will the global church view this? (14:10-18:24)

I encourage you to listen to this interview, and then forward it on to your elders and other leaders. And then discuss it. As you do so, please ponder these additional questions:

  • How do you sense this will affect your pastoral ministry?
  • How do you think this will affect the church and its ministry?
  • How will you respond, what will you plan to do?
  • What additional questions would you ask?