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Archive for Theology


Suffering and Hope: 1 Peter Six

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So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be hold because I am holy.” And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleaned from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other, as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass, their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like new born babies you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
– 1 Peter 1:13-2:3 (NLT)

Theology precedes ethics. Or one might say what we believe determines how we behave. This is the pattern of the epistles. It is clearly evident in Paul’s letters, and 1 Peter is no exception. The first section of 1 Peter (1:1-12) is an intense theological passage. Like Paul, Peter follows up his doctrinal statement with an ethical section. In the above passage, he challenges his readers with five imperatives to apply to their everyday lives.

1. Control your thought life (1 Peter 1:13).
Their new found faith should inform how they process information. The same is true of us. The experiences of life are real. But what we choose to think about those same experiences is under our control. We can’t change reality, but we can manage our thoughts about those experiences.
2. Be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16).
I find it interesting that Peter’s instruction is to be holy, not to do holy. We commit a grave injustice when we reduce holiness to a list of “do’s and don’ts” rather than seeing it as a vital part of our position in Christ. As holy people we do self-examination. But holiness motivates our self-checking, not vice versa.
3. Live in reverent fear of God (1 Peter 1:17-21).
One of the most important daily disciplines a Christian should exercise is the simple confession “God is in control.” Living in reverent fear of the Lord is the result of living with the conviction that God is sovereign and in control of all things. God has already saved us from the worst of all, so we can trust him to reign over every circumstance in our lives.
4. Intentionally love others (1 Peter 1:22-25).
One of the first things we learn when we come to faith is that God loves us. We know our faith is beginning to mature when we learn that God loves others too. Love is important, because it’s the one eternal value that we possess on earth that will carry over into our life in heaven. In heaven we won’t need faith and hope for faith will be sight and hope will be fulfilled. But love endures eternally.
5. Develop good eating habits (1 Peter 2:1-3).
Good nutrition is a critical part of good health. This is true of the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. We must grow as believers, and a balanced diet from the word will make sure that we are spiritually healthy and balanced.

Categories : 1 Peter, Hope, Suffering, Theology
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Basis for Theology

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To my way of understanding, theology is like a river that is formed by three tributaries. One tributary is the process of personal learning which comes as we sit before Scripture. As a Baptist, I wholeheartedly believe the doctrine of soul competency, which affirms our individual privilege and responsibility to hear from God and respond to him. As a believer, God has equipped and empowered us to relate directly with him. We can hear from him and respond appropriately.

The second tributary is the learning that occurs within the community of faith whereby we interact with one another over cups of coffee, honing our views and understanding of Scripture. A good illustration of this is found in church history. Our orthodox faith has been developed over time through conversations and councils that produced creeds and confessions. The doctrines we profess were not developed by individuals but through community. I think the best theological work comes from striving to ask better questions. Healthy community values hard questions over pat answers every time. Thus the work is more about asking better questions and less about clinging to our safe positions.

The third tributary is the practice of our faith in the marketplace and the resulting experiences we amass. Included in this tributary are things like our culture, context, and ministry application (praxis). After all, we are particular Christians living in particular places in the ongoing history. Whether we like it or not, what happens to us in the laboratory of life impacts what happens in us and tempers our view of God and his words, and how we minister those in the marketplace.

The narrative account of the Jerusalem council convened in Acts 15 demonstrates these three influences at work. Through that event we see the dynamics of persons wrestling with Scripture over against their cultural background and experiences. On one hand we see a group whose religious background would suggest the need for circumcision. On the other, another group whose ministry experience revealed that Gentiles were indeed coming to faith apart from strict observance of Mosaic law. They came together, had conversation, and worked out an understanding in community. Even then, their outcomes would not be the same outcomes we would reach here and now in the 21st century. I find this intriguing.

There is a problem, however, with the analogy of the three tributaries in that they are difficult to balance. In a perfect world, personal learning, the informal conversation of community, and life experience are an equilateral triangle: equal sides and equal angles. But that’s not reality. Sometimes we become out of balance due to the fact that one tributary may feed more than its share into the river because of heavy rain. Truth be known, theology is messy yet important work. From it flows our character, our values and convictions, and our conduct. The work is worth it. Otherwise we become victims to the worst of all, taking others word for everything we believe.

Categories : Theology
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