Archives For Christian living

Our biblical knowledge often surpasses our biblical obedience. We often know better than we live. Our proclamation of the truth is not often reflected in our lives. This is not news, and it ought not to shock anyone. Ongoing growth and maturity is a process. After regeneration, we are progressively being transformed (2 Cor. 3:18) by the Holy Spirit into the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).

In this progressive process there are two temptations we must address. First, this does not mean that one must have perfected all the truth in one’s life before that person can say anything about the truth of God’s Word. If that is the case, then there is only One who can ever say anything about the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ. But, secondly, having said this and acknowledging that one who speaks truth does not have to have perfected it before speaking it, raises another possible problem. It can lead to one who speaks truth without taking the application of it in his/her own life seriously.

The problem is not that there is a gap between what we know to be true and how we live our lives. That will be true until the Lord Jesus Christ returns when our sanctification reaches its culmination in glorification. Instead the problem arises when this reality does not bother us, or we find excuses for it. The solution to this problem, the gap that exists between what we know or speak of truth and how we live is repentance and renewal.

Paul Tripp calls this “spiritual schizophrenia.” He pinpoints this problem with a question: “does the public persona of your faith live in harmony with the private realities of your life?” He provides a few examples that sound all-too-familiar

  • Are you a mother that joyfully sings “Amazing Grace” during a worship service, and then on the way home, yells at your kids for making noise and disrupting your peace and quiet?
  • Are you a husband that prays and reads the Bible in the morning before work, but treats your wife with cold harshness before walking out the door?
  • Are you a member of a small group who participates with spiritual enthusiasm in front of people but lives in fear and discouragement when no one is looking?
  • Are you a pastor that boldly proclaims the Bible from the pulpit but fails to live in the same biblical manner with your family?

Living between the times of when we received our new life in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) and our future glory (Rom. 8:18ff), we struggle, as the Holy Spirit lives within and empowers, to put off the sins of the flesh and put on the graces of Christ (Gal. 5:16-26; Col. 3:5-17). Rooted in what Christ has done (the indicative), we live our Christian lives (imperative) (Col. 3:1-4). The gospel is the foundation for both.

This means that it is not that things do not or will not happen. As Christians we do not live with sinless perfection. All of us would at one time or another fit one or another of the examples. The question is, how do and will we respond when these sorts of things happen? If and when there is inconsistency between what Tripp refers to as “spirituality and reality,” how do we respond?

Not content merely to identify the problem of the bifurcation between spirituality and reality, Tripp gives “five signs” of what one’s life would look like if there were consistency between the two, which I summarize.

First, there will be a humble awareness of the extent and the gravity of your sin.

Second, you’ll be aware of that constant battle for control of your heart.

Third, there will be a clear holding on to the present benefits of Christ’s grace right here and right now.

Fourth, there will be a daily pursuit of God’s call to personal growth and change.

Fifth and finally, there will be an everyday lifestyle of repentance and faith.

What is your spirituality? What is your reality? Is there consistency? Is there growth?

Earlier this week, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) released the “Code of Ethics for Pastors.” This document was developed over the past 18 months by a task force that included pastors, ethicists, editors and denominational leaders, including our own President Bill Hamel. After several drafts, on March 8, 2012 the NAE Board of Directors unanimously adopted the “Code of Ethics for Pastors.” Please see a copy of the document in English and in Spanish. (If you are interested in who has signed the Code. If you are interested in signing the Code.)

Luder Whitlock, chair of the task force, was grateful to Leith Anderson, NAE President, and the Board for this important statement: “Thanks to the leadership of Leith Anderson, the board of the NAE has prepared a long overdue Code of Ethics for Pastors. This succinct statement provides guidance for pastors who desire to honor the Lord by their example as well as by what they confess and preach. We expect it will soon become indispensable as a reference for pastoral ethics.”

For Anderson, long-time pastor who recently retired, this is an important document for pastors. He encourages discussion and adoption. Anderson’s ultimate desire is that pastors will live by these standards, not in a legalistic manner but in dependent and joyful reliance on the Holy Spirit, so that their (our!) lives would be lived “above reproach” and that they (we!) would live in a “manner worth of the gospel of Christ.”

This is every pastor’s opportunity to know, commit and tell others about a personal and professional standard of biblical pastoral ethics. I invite every pastor and every church board to put this code of ethics on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. Discuss. Adopt. Live these standards.

I include below the major themes and issues addressed in the “Code of Ethics for Pastors” (please read the whole document, cf. the link above, where this is delineated further).

Code of Ethics for Pastors

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)

All who are called by God to the ministry of the gospel solemnly commit to a life of joyful obedience and selfless service in order to glorify God and enrich his people. Therefore, a minister will:

Pursue Integrity

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. (1 Chronicles 29:17)

          • in personal character.
          • in personal care.
          • in preaching and teaching.

Be Trustworthy

It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)

          • in leadership.
          • with information.
          • with resources.

Seek Purity

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

          • in maintaining sexual purity.
          • in spiritual formation.
          • in theology.
          • in professional practice.

Embrace Accountability

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)

          • in finances.
          • in ministry responsibilities.
          • in a denomination or a ministry organization.

Facilitate Fairness

Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. . Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)

          • with staff.
          • with parishioners.
          • with the community.
          • with a prior congregation.

Text + Culture: Talking Points

Greg Strand – March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

—comment by Greg Strand, EFCA director of Biblical Theology & Credentialing

I am always looking to read pertinent works and to listen to relevant lectures/messages on foundational matters of the Christian faith. The “talking point” lecture series, began last year at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, focused on “Text and Culture” this year. Though I have not listened to the lectures, because of the subject-matter addressed I will. You may be interested as well.

Talking Points is an annual forum designed to bring about thoughtful perspectives on current ministry topics through presentation, dialogue and interaction.

“Text and Culture”
October 3, 2011

The Bible is…

  • an ancient text written to an ancient culture.
  • a relevant word from God for today.

In these two realities lay the challenge of pastors, ministry leaders and students of the Bible.

  • How do we understand the meaning of the biblical text in its original context?
  • How do we translate the text into the vocabulary of today’s reader?
  • How do we speak of the relevance of the Bible to our contemporary culture?

Biblical Text in Ancient Culture
Daniel R. Watson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Audio

Scot McKnight, on his blog noted that Watson’s lecture addressed “how culture informs the Old Testament, and his theoretical as well as illustrative examples were a good warm-up to the topic. Showing how culture informs that text is what many need to see all over again, and Dan offered plenty of examples.”

Biblical Text in Contemporary Culture
Douglas J. Moo, Ph.D.
Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies
Wheaton College
Audio

McKnight noted how Moo, the Chair of the Committee on Bible Translation, addressed “how the NIV translators worked: how they examined original text in original language, how they sought to create “natural” English, and how that involves both interpretation and seeking for natural English equivalents to what the text says.”

Biblical Text in & Cultural Relevance
Scot McKnight, Ph.D.
Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies
North Park University
Audio

McKnight’s summary of his own message was as follows: “My talk, after lunch, which had one of its goals to keep everyone awake and away from those early afternoon naps, was devoted to the theme of “cultural relevance,” and I developed seven themes — briefly of course.”

Question & Answer
Daniel R. Watson, Ph.D.
Douglas Moo, Ph.D.
Scot McKnight, Ph.D.
Audio

Which Bible Translation Should I Use?

Greg Strand – March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

–comments by Greg Strand, EFCA Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing

Here is a very interesting Symposium, hosted by Liberty University, on Bible translations, specifically comparing and contrasting the New International Version (2011), the English Standard Version (2011), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004). The presenters were Ray Clendenen (HCSB), Wayne Grudem (ESV) and Doug Moo (NIV). The three presentations were followed by a Q and A. A message on “The Trustworthiness of Scripture,” that was also a part of this Symposium, is also included.

The Liberty University Biblical Studies Symposium
Monday, September 26, 2011
“Which Bible Translation Should I Use?” With Dr. Doug Moo, Dr. Wayne Grudem, and Dr. Ray Clendenen

Video 1: Dr. Ray Clendenen and the Holman Christian Standard Bible
Video 2: Dr. Wayne Grudem and the English Standard Version
Video 3: Dr. Doug Moo and the New International Version
Video 4: Responses and Q&A
Video 5: Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Morning Session: “The Trustworthiness of Scripture”
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