Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1 Peter 1:10-12 - Theopneustos

Sounds like Greek to me! That is, of course, because it is. The title for this week's lesson from 1 Peter 1:10-12 is the Greek word for "God-Breathed"—the term we use to describe Scripture and it's divine origin.

Our passage is one of those gems where there are multiple nuggets that we can find and explore (and I'll have to resist the urge to go in depth with all of them). First, the mystery of Christ's sufferings and glory. We take for granted today that Christ died for our sins, but it was indeed a mystery for His contemporaries, and just imagine the prophets who wrote of it before even knowing when He would come.

Second, the ministry (service) of the prophets. They weren't serving themselves at all... ever thought about that? Get a message from God, have no idea what it means, and you're pretty sure nobody in your lifetime ever will, but you record it anyways for the benefit of people to come centuries after you. What a task!

And finally, the most paradoxical in these two verses, a prophet's "intent searching" even while it's God's "breath" or "spirit" that is speaking through them anyway. Come ready this Sunday.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

1 Peter 1:3-9 - Rejoice in Your Inheritance

The emperor is out to kill us. It's becoming increasingly difficult to meet in public without the risk of imprisonment or worse. We're losing our businesses. We're losing our minds. And when, OH WHEN, will He return to make it all end? Have we done something to upset Him? Can we do something to appease Him? Are we sure that we're really His? Oh, what a terrifying prospect... my goodness, what if we aren't?

When times are bad, doubts can spiral out of control. In an era where economic prosperity was a sign of the gods' favor, what can a group of Greeks make of their desperate plight that seems to worsen every day. As we read in 1 Peter 1:3-8 this coming Sunday, try to put yourselves in the shoes of a 1st century Christian in Asia Minor. It's not hard if you know how to relate.

While the ancients looked to prosperity and health, today our highly experiential world tells us that God is near to us, and us to Him, when we sense His presence. Quiet times are deep and "spiritual." We pray daily. The mountain-top experiences tell us something is real in this religion. And when that fades? And when we fade? What then?

Peter told his readers there was confidence to be had in the power of God. Adam said it best after class last Sunday when he told me, regardless of your persuasion on free will vs. God's sovereignty, we can't be deceived into thinking that salvation revolves around us and our actions.

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Compatibilism & Libertarianism

First, a follow-up for last week. We ended our discussion with the debate over human free will. I want to round out that discussion with a little final commentary, then I'll move on to our preview for next week's lesson in 1 Peter.

Free will that is "compatible" with God's is described like this: Man will do that which he most desires. This means that—in theory—God's will is carried forth through Man's so-called "free" will in that He knows what we desire, what we would choose given various circumstances, and thereby guides human history with this infinite knowledge. This stands in contrast to the libertarian freedom most advocated by Arminians where man's will is not imposed on in any way by God's will—compatible or otherwise.

Now, I included one key phrase "in theory" in this final commentary that (hopefully) wraps up this discussion for our class... at least for now. What I want you to realize is that neither "compatibalism" nor "libertarian" appear anywhere in my concordance, and unless you have some radical new translation of the Bible, I venture to say it's nowhere in yours either. The only authoritative word that we have to go on is the Word itself (or Himself, I could go either way there). I encourage you—nay, implore you—to seek answers FIRST in scripture and make every effort neither to add to its teaching nor dismiss any of its truths despite the understandability and/or logic of what you find.

I don't ask that everyone agree with me, nor Calvin, but only this: that you base your beliefs solely in scripture. Everything else is merely "in theory."

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

1 Peter 1:1-2 - To God's Elect

Hello all you elect people, how are you today? Ok, so that's not customary language that we use in the Church today. But, as we begin our study in 1 Peter this Sunday, we'll see that it certainly was a perfectly fine way to address believers in the early church.

Writing to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, Peter addressed his letter specifically to "God's Elect ... who have been chosen." Now, before your minds immediately begin to draft acceptable definitions of what Peter really meant by that, let's stop for a moment and ask, what's so important about election that Peter wanted to identify his audience with the term? He didn't hide from the concept or dismiss it as illogical, unpalatable, or counter to his own free will. Maybe... juuuuust maybe... his readers didn't see the concept as quite so inflammatory as we do today.

I think we can all agree that there may be something foundational to a 1st century Jew about the concept of being God's "chosen people." So then, is there something from this doctrine of election that should be foundational to us as modern-day, gentile believers? Well, if you've been around me long enough, you know my answer to that already. I want to invite you to come ready for an in-depth look at this doctrine this Sunday. There's a lot of ground to cover, so we'll start promptly at 9:15.

Oh, and if you'd like to come prepared, here's some recommended reading: Romans 8-9; Ephesians 1:3-14.

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